No F.E.A.R Negotiations Part I: Fear
Women are typically fearful, nervous or anxious about negotiations at some level or alternatively, they overcompensate. If any of these apply to you, then read on. In this six part series, I’d like to introduce you to No F.E.A.R Negotiating. This simple acronym can change how you approach bargaining so you get better results. When you approach your negotiations without Fear, Ego, Attachment, or Reactivity (F.E.A.R), you’ll have more control, ease, clarity, confidence and perspective – all of which will help you keep your eye on the outcome to increase your chances of getting what you want, or more. Today, let’s start the discussion by taking on fear.
I invite you to let go of the fear of bargaining. Fear will tank your confidence, which in turn will tank your credibility and persuasiveness. Have you ever tried to convince a child not to be scared when you’re oozing worry? It won’t work. The words we say are a small part of our communications in bargaining. Our facial expressions (macro and micro), our body language, our tone of voice and even the energy we give off all send strong signals to the people we interact with. This holds true in our daily lives and in our negotiations.
I remember visiting my aunt as a child. She was terrified of storms. To her credit, she’d try to assure us kids there was nothing to worry about. I wasn’t afraid of storms – in fact I loved them. But seeing her wide-eyed abject terror, with her lips pulled back in what she hoped was a reassuring smile but was reminiscent of horror shows I’d snuck peaks at, in combination with her quivering voice was enough to set the entire household on anxious high alert. Equally important, she’d feed on her own fear, and ultimately end up shouting “Lord thundering Jesus, save yourselves, get under the beds!” as her Newfie roots kicked in and she clamored to scramble under the closest bed in the wake of a thunder clap. Admittedly Aunt Minnie is an extreme example, and it’s a funny story today, but there are lessons there. Her fear did not inspire confidence. It was easy to take advantage of her in that state (as my cousins can attest). She lost all clarity and was unable to meet her objectives. She fed on her own fear, undermining her own confidence and capabilities. She lost out on opportunities. All of these consequences apply equally when you approach your negotiations. Succumbing to fear will almost always detract from your effectiveness, in bargaining and in life.
When you approach negotiations with fear, you undermine your effectiveness (both internally and externally) before you even get a chance to convey your message. Others will feel it and use it. You’ll feel it and if unchecked or unmanaged it will feed on you and suck your comfort, confidence and competence. Fear typically also drops your energy and ability to maintain clarity. It should come as no surprise that maintaining clarity in bargaining is critical. You need to know the outcome or objective that you’re seeking when you approach a negotiation. You should have determined your bottom line (reservation or resistance point); your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated solution); and the zone of potential agreement. As a practical matter, fear also tends to make us too chatty. Talking too much is a vice in negotiations. You will almost certainly give up too much information, to your detriment. At the very least, the accepted perception is that the more someone talks in bargaining, the less confident they are about their position.
Perception is important. Both for those you deal with, and internally, for yourself. Visualization exercises are valuable for this reason. What we think, we become. If we approach negotiations from a place of fear, we will be calling that which we fear. By contrast, when we approach negotiations from a place of confidence, we exude certainty, build rapport and trust, and are more likely to manifest what we seek.
Now that you recognize the value and urgency of recognizing your fears to up level your skill as a negotiator, next week we’ll start exploring some of the most popular fear factors – from fear of failure to fear of success.