Last week, in Part I, we explored the perils of bowing down to expert advice or opinions without question. I used my experience (of having my concerns about my deteriorating hip discounted by medical experts) to share some valuable negotiating lessons I took away. Today, I’d like to continue that exploration.
We’d left off in my saga at the point where I’d finally insisted on getting an MRI after having been thrice dismissed by my doctor.
Note that we’re more likely to yield our power when dealing with issues for ourselves (versus for our loved ones). When my daughter had been diagnosed with a serious heart defect, for example, I was on the experts every day, questioning, challenging, insisting I get satisfactory answers and jointly agreed upon plans forward. When my son was diagnosed with a serious mental health issue, I pushed past a broken system to insist on getting the resources he needed and the access I sought.
This was also a lesson for me (and I hope a reminder to you) that our problems rarely pop up out of the blue. There are lead ups and warnings. When we leave them unaddressed, we invariably set ourselves up to have them build. I invite you to develop the habit of addressing issues in your life promptly. Don’t allow them to build momentum (like the proverbial snowball that triggers an avalanche). Address them head-on before they become crises. This is true whether dealing with a suspected health problem or business problem or relationship problem.
When I finally got my MRI and long-awaited referral to a specialist, I was told I needed surgery. I’d suddenly gone from repeated assurances (over 3 years of lobbying) that nothing was wrong to advice that I needed a full hip replacement. Apparently, I hadn’t learned my lesson about bringing assertiveness, intuition, and self-trust to the table as I blithely accepted this advice (after a mere 5 minutes with the surgeon).
While it was frustrating at the time, it turned out to be fortuitous that there was a wait for surgery as a plethora of varied opinions were about to come barrelling my way. My surgery was set to be scheduled for January but as that was my great Antarctic Adventure it was pushed to February. My hip went completely sideways (so to speak) in December, and I was scrambling to get some relief to get me through the trip. On that journey, I saw 2 chiropractors and an osteopath, all of whom had dramatically divergent views on how to deal with my situation.
I now had two surgeons who were adamant that I needed a full hip replacement, set against 3 other experts who were equally adamant that surgery was not my best option (although they all had diametrically opposed propositions on how to best deal with my problem). Chiropractor #1 said my hip was ‘an angry dog’ and we didn’t want to get the dog any angrier, so he suggested a gentle course of ongoing acupuncture, shock wave therapy and mild mobility exercises (almost all of which focused on my buttocks). The osteopath found that to be irrelevant. She focused on applying mild pressure on my abdomen and lower back as the path to recovery. And then I went to chiropractor #2 and everything changed.
He listened to my story and proceeded with what I can only describe as a prison boot camp regimen. I have a high pain threshold (which often gets me under-treated or under-diagnosed as in this hip saga scenario) but I almost walked out 5 minutes in. He pushed and pulled and stretched and cracked me to what seemed like my certain breaking point. I thought I’d stumbled upon a pain-seeking sociopath. And yet … his walls were adorned with no less than 100 signed accolades from professional and Olympic athletes he’d apparently worked with.
After an hour of what seemed like unending torture, he had me do the same exercises he’d done at the outset. And lo and behold, my range of motion had increased dramatically. I still hurt, but I could move more freely. Apparently, I’d needed some serious myofascial release amongst other unpleasant treatments.
So, who to believe? Which of these established reputable experts to trust? And that brings me to the final point of these lessons learned through my hip fiasco. The answer may well be ‘all and none’. What do I mean by that? The best advice is to first trust yourself. Tap into your inner knowing. Seek out various options, listen, experience them, pay attention to your own responses and trust your internal compass and inner feedback.
Expert advice is important. But don’t fall into the trap of blindly accepting such input. Don’t allow so-called experts (whether in the health arena, in litigation, in business, in personal interactions or beyond) to put your own negotiation practices on hold.
Do your preparation work. Trust in your preparation and don’t allow yourself to be brow-beaten or your confidence to be undermined simply because an expert or purported expert opinion has been presented by the other party in a negotiation. At the same time, be open to receiving new information to weigh as you go.
Negotiate your mindset. Decide who you want to show up as in the negotiation so you won’t be easily thrown off course. Show up with the confidence that comes from having done your preparation work. Allow yourself space to get the clarity you need about your desired outcomes. Remember that you can’t always control external elements, but you can control how you choose to react. And you control your reality, in part, by choosing the meaning you attach to external stimuli. Manage your fear, ego, attachment and reactivity.
[Check out my free No F.E.A.R. Negotiating ebook for more on my No F.E.A.R. model]
A surprise lesson for me from this experience that I wanted to share with you is that we are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for. Sometimes we need to push ourselves outside our comfort zone to get best results. I could barely walk before I left home, and yet I hiked volcanoes, rode zodiacs to penguin colonies and kayaked in the Antarctic (Southern) ocean. I plan to bring this lesson to my daily negotiations in life, both personally and professionally.
Step up. Be brave. Trust yourself before you seek to be trusted by others. Trust in your intuition. Get curious. Ask questions. Even when facing an expert, your input matters. Your perspective matters. Dig until you can reconcile what you believe with what you may hear. You deserve to trust and be satisfied with the outcomes you achieve.
Are you looking to up level your negotiation skills?
How to Get What You Want from the Boardroom to the Bedroom
Negotiation skills are a woman’s secret weapon.
Art of Feminine Negotiation debunks myths and multi-generational gender conditioning that have stopped women from fully stepping into their power. Uncover the unconscious biases that have limited women from becoming the biggest and best versions of themselves.
Learn the key skillsets that mark superior negotiators, explore how women already possess these skills in spades, and master how to start invoking these essential skills with intention in everyday life.
Please enjoy my TEDx Ocala talk
- Rise of the Feminine Voice as the Key to Our Future-