If you’ve been thinking, “but I’m just a mom” or “my job is ruled by pay scales” or “secretaries can’t negotiate” — think again! And register for the 4-week virtual learning and journaling course in the Craving Balance Learning Community.
When I was ten years old, my best friend, Steve and I moved our nascent tennis careers from the blacktop of neighborhood streets to the local high school’s courts. I’d never had a single lesson but believed I was pretty darn good.
Then came tennis season in high school. One warm Southern California morning, I was showing off my strong backhand to Coach White when she yelped, “where did you learn to play like that?”
“It’s how I’ve always played,” I replied, waiting for the praise I knew must follow.
“Well, it’s all wrong,” she scowled. “I’ve never seen anyone hit a backhand like that before in my entire life.”
It wasn’t a titanic struggle, but I did mightily resist giving up the skill I’d been honing since elementary school. It worked for me. Why did she want me to change? Not only would I be required to alter behavior that was, by now, reflexive, I’d have to spend some serious time being a really crappy beginning tennis player again.
Nearly forty years later I’d have a jarringly similar experience taking my first mediation class after negotiating settlements for more than two decades. I had to spend a little bit of time being a really crappy beginning negotiator again. And I’m pretty certain that will also happen to most of you.
That ingratiation tactic, for instance. The one in which we give up power for sympathy. It’s worked pretty well with our husbands or family or children. Sure, they’ve come to resent the manner in which we get our way and they give up theirs, but time is short; we’re overwhelmed with raising a family or climbing the corporate ladder; keeping our business above water or getting along with a bully boss in the workplace. We’re not going to have to give up our old reliable techniques are we?
Yes we are!
Because new skills have now been repeatedly tested by negotiation professors and coaches at the best business schools in the country, skills that are being used by Fortune 500 executives and international diplomats to better effect that the daily news would suggest. Skills that will work for you. Promise. Guaranteed.
What I think will most surprise you the most is that the most effective negotiation strategies and tactics are pretty much what we women are already good at. We naturally look for opportunities in which everyone gets what they want. We’ll just tweak that existing talent a little and make it more powerful by bringing it to consciousness.
What we’re not tremendously good at is asking for what we want. And because we haven’t practiced that skill, we haven’t learned how powerful it can be. Nor have we learned how to do it without sounding bossy or bitchy or whiney. Sorry for the stereotypes, but we are judged according to them. One of the lessons in this course is how to get the concessions we cannot get by being bossy, bitchy, and, whiney or that we do get but that we’re later punished for in surprising and baffling ways.
Isn’t that much easier, my coach asked after only a few weeks of play. And see how much stronger your stroke is and how many more games you’re winning?
Yes! I did see. And although I didn’t go on to a career in tennis, I’d learned my first genuinely valuable life lesson. Be ready to give up that which doesn’t work no matter how fond of it I am. Be ready to learn that which does work. And rule the court!
The Lessons of Week Two
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