leadership incorporated blog

February 1, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Are you negotiating against yourself?

Before writing these each week, I reflect on the situations that my clients have presented the week before, looking for themes that might inspire all of us to find new more effective ways of thinking, doing and being in our work and lives.

This week, it seems like everyone is anticipating the worst and then negotiating against themselves before hearing it.

A corporate leader about to make a big presentation to a prospective client even before presenting, began lowering the prices in the presentation out of fear that they would be too high in this economy.

A vice president in transition was ready to lower his base salary, title, and other compensation…before there was even an offer on the table.

A director in transition is looking at positions that are a step down in anticipation that she will have to take a step backwards from the job she lost 3 months ago.

A successfully employed client in a personal struggle with a family member anticipating a “no” was ready to give up on what she wanted before even expressing her wishes in conversation.

Where are you negotiating against yourself? Most of us do this somewhere in our lives.

Here are some tips on how to approach these kinds of situations differently.

  1. Wake up. Start to notice when you go into negotiation with yourself before the actual negotiation with others.
  2. Stop. When you’re actually in a negotiation you may end up conceding certain things. But don’t start giving up before you get into the negotiation.
  3. Cultivate a “How might this be possible?” attitude. Just because the other person wants something different doesn’t mean that there isn’t another option that might satisfy you both.
  4. Engage the other person in finding mutually beneficial solutions.
  5. Know the value you provide. Know how you will be of service and what that service will mean to your partner in the negotiation.
  6. Be committed to providing value that exceeds the price.
  7. Keep YOUR focus on the value you provide throughout. This will help them to keep their focus on the value and not get distracted by the price. (This works even in situations where money is not involved. There is always a price.)
  8. Don’t enter a money discussion until it’s clear that everything else is working for both parties.

Some language you might adapt to do this: “If it’s right, I know we’ll be able to arrive at a mutually agreeable price/compromise. Let’s just make sure we’re both getting what we want before we waste either of our time negotiating.”

By the way, in the situation above that has already resolved, I worked with the VP to stand strongly in his confidence in what he brings to the position. He went into the conversation asking for what he wanted. The company offered a signing bonus and other creative solutions that closed the gap in a satisfactory way. He accepted the offer and begins work this week.

This week, resist the urge to give up anything prematurely.

Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

— John Fitzgerald Kennedy


  1. your words are wise and serve as a great reminder – thanks Sharon!

    Comment by Delia Swan — February 1, 2010 @ 7:43 pm | Reply

  2. Appreciate your comments regarding “value”. At times this seems to have been lost in business. We can all add value .. it is key we figure out what it is.

    Comment by Ted Saul — February 2, 2010 @ 10:54 pm | Reply

  3. Love this, Sharon. Especially as i have an interview for a job tomorrow morning! I’m very clear on my worth and what I bring to the position, and will be interviewing them, as well.

    Comment by Robin Gurse — February 4, 2010 @ 6:43 am | Reply

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