Growing Up On the Losing Side of Negotiation and Tips for Leaders to Overcome It

Negotiation occurring in a business meeting between adult leaders
Photo by Thirdman on

Have you ever felt stuck in any of these situations below?

Then you may have grown up negotiating in your life, and sometimes, not exactly on the winning side of business. Build awareness and growth around this, and you can take a strong step towards transcending yourself as a better leader and business owner.

When we grow up, we become accustomed to a certain kind of relationship norm that can sometimes imperceptibly modify our worldview and, inevitably, our business journey. As a child with extremely loving parents, you never want to think your parents could be doing something that can actually affect or hinder your ability to become your best self and the best possible leader. But as we grow up and step out into the real world, we often find that our perspectives and habits are warped in unexpected ways that need to be straightened out for us to reach towards our best selves.

Have you ever run into these situations?

If you’re married or in a relationship, needing to run joint decisions by parents and having your mind changed to the detriment of your relationship.

Parents offended by not being the first people to know about something, then not telling you first about things that happen to them as ways for you to return to your relationship norms.

If you try to ask your parents when you are in a conflict why they believe what they believe, they sometimes react with annoyance, act dismissive, or end the conversation, or react in another negative way.

You can’t have an opinion that doesn’t go along with what your parents believe because either they are right, or you are wrong. There’s little space for an in between.

When you do build up the courage to express what is bothering you, words get spinned and your mind gets “put at ease” by your parents without any resolution towards your personal goals actually being reached.

You feel like you have to tiptoe around expressing your feelings or expressing what you really want, or who you really are when it comes to your parents.

Have you ever seen these traits in yourself?

You’re often uncomfortable telling people how you really feel or what you really need or want when you think it’s going to upset them.

You worry a lot about what others think of you, and often prioritize maintaining relationships above arguing for what you really need or want.

You’ve been called a pushover by some people.

You often find it difficult to stand up for what you truly believe.

You often feel deep empathy for others’ feelings and want to make them happy as much as possible, sometimes at the expense of your own present or future best interest.

Negotiation and conflict are a fact of life, and negotiation skills are so important for entrepreneurs to proactively develop. If you can’t have tough conversations with people, you may find it difficult to become a successful leader or business owner. And if you can be swayed away from what you believe is right all the time, you may be at risk of developing anxiety and a lowered self-confidence because an easily modified, unsteady world-view or identity makes for a more unsteady human being and business leader. And if you are unsteady in your beliefs as a business owner, you will find it very difficult to act decisively and commit to decisions which are two key steps to building practically anything.

Tips to Help Overcome This.

In short, talking to a psychologist can be the best option to figure yourself out because everybody has had a different life experience that has developed potentially negative habits, and some of those habits you may not even recognize otherwise! But here are some other tips to help you keep growing.

If you’re an independent adult, start having uncomfortable conversations with the awareness that people get mad all the time. If they get mad, what can they do anyway? They’ll ultimately just have to get over it. As a business owner, you will have to negotiate with subcontractors, clients, employees, suppliers, and so many other people. A huge number of those conversations will be uncomfortable but necessary for your business and ultimately life happiness and fulfillment.

Plan ahead of uncomfortable negotiations. Write down your reasons for believing what you do, and anticipate what potential rejections to your perspectives will be. Write down what those potential rejections will be, and your responses ahead of time in order to internalize them.

Practice asking probing questions. Seek to understand first, not to be understood. Ask why they believe things have to be a certain way, or how they think their ideas or proposals will work. Work to understand exactly what it is they believe and all of the reasons why they believe what they believe.

Actively listen to others by mirroring a couple of words they say and summarize what they say. This will help you fully understand their perspective, and show them you’re placing importance on what they are saying.

After working to fully understand their points, then, respectfully present your proposal in a way that either aligns with what they have expressed, provides solutions to what they have presented as issues, or separates their issues from your proposal’s points.

Step outside of your comfort zone every day! Go for the uncomfortable “Ask”! Dare to share how you feel. Unless you show the world what is on your mind and in your heart, there is no way the world or anyone in it can possibly hope to help you achieve it.

Negotiation is inevitable and happens in almost every moment of our lives. Not only with others, but even within ourselves. While you may not have been on the winning side of the negotiations in the past, your past does not define your future. You can start to recognize what the people in your life were doing right to join them on the winning side.

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