Negotiating Our Dreams: Part 4 of 4

In Julie Berry's The Amaranth Enchantment, orphan Lucinda is dressed for the ball in Cinderella-like fashion by her fairy godmother Beryl.  When Lucinda finally sees herself in the mirror, it is as if she is seeing someone other than herself.  “

[Someone] like a princess.”

But when Lucinda stands up from the dressing table, she trips on the heel of her slipper, and confidence faltering, cries out, “I can't do it, Beryl, that's not me.  I'll make a fool of myself.  I can't carry it off.  Please don't make me.  I'm bound to fail.”

“Don't be frightened by your beauty, Lucinda,” Beryl responds. “You haven't, until now, known you had it, and so you're uncorrupted by it.  You can never take any credit for it, or make it your aim.”  She smiled.  “But it would be an act of deceit to deny your beauty or tell yourself that what you see is not you.”

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Source:  istockphoto

When I first read this passage 1 1/2 years ago, I remember thinking, this is ridiculous.  How can Lucinda not be aware of her beauty?  If a girl is pretty, she knows it.  At least I would know something so obvious. Wouldn't you?

***

In my wrap-up for the She Negotiates course, I wrote that I'm nearly always negotiating from a place of weakness.  The good news is — I'm not alone.  According to one of our instructors Vickie Pynchon this belief is typical.  “Every time I train in house lawyers or executives I ask what their biggest negotiation challenge is.  And every time, every time, no matter how powerful the company (e.g. Fortune 500), I get the same answer:  we're always negotiating from a position of weakness.”

It is implausible that Fortune 500 companies are always negotiating from a point of weakness, laughable nearly.  And neither are we.  Just as Lucinda hasn't discovered her beauty, we are frequently unaware of all that is at our disposal to make things happen, to negotiate our dreams.

Negotiating Our Dreams: Part 3 of 4

It's Week 3 of my class She Negotiates.

This course definitely has the highest educational ROI (return on investment) in years.  Following is more of what I've learned, including a success story.

Value-claiming vs. Value-expanding negotiation — According to one of our instructors Vickie Pynchon, there are two types of negotiation:

  1. “Value claiming” – negotiation in which you ask for more of the “fixed pie” of apparently limited resources. This is also called “distributive” bargaining because the parties to this type of negotiation are attempting to distribute the (limited) resources between them.
  2. Interest-based “value expanding” negotiation – in which resources are not limited, and can actually be expanded such that both parties work productively toward a mutually agreeable resolution.

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Source:  istockphoto

Most women are comfortable with and good at finding a win-win.  But a win-win resolution isn't always a possibility.  To put this in the extreme, when negotiating with the professional or personal equivalent of terrorists, there isn't a win-win.  You need to win, the other needs to lose.

But even under normal circumstances, we can't always broker a win-win. Not because there's a right or wrong, but because we have to set priorities. It needs to be a no-gotiation, until we can say yes.  Learning to claim a place for our dream, whether time, space, or money is required, may lead to a temporary win-lose dynamic.  To give you an idea of how uncomfortable this may feel, during a practice session, I was tapped to role play ‘winner-takes-all' in negotiating the purchase of a sofa.  Upon the assignment,  I immediately felt myself shrink, a pit forming in my stomach at the thought of winning at someone else's expense, because that's not what nice girls do.

Value-expanding negotiation:  the importance of asking questions — Whether negotiating with our son or daughter about doing their homework in two hours rather than right now or asking for a raise, according to Ms. Pynchon, “our success as a negotiator depends on learning to get over there by asking open-ended questions (who, what, when, where, why) that reveal your bargaining partner's fears, needs, desires, preferences and priorities.” 

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Source:  istockphoto

I was surprised that I couldn't readily do this, especially because I've been told by many-a-person that I am a great question-asker.  What I figured out, by way of an observation made by our instructor Lisa Gates, that in a mission-critical situation (e.g. loved ones) I default to mind-reading.  When we try to read minds, any flawed assumptions we might have get reinforced, and potentially erode our relationships.

I have since resolved to practice asking diagnostic questions.  I even did it over lunch with my son last weekend.  It was recommended that we never negotiate until we've broken bread with our bargaining partner:  breaking bread together releases oxytocin, builds trust, makes it more difficult for people to be unaccommodating.  I frequently quip, “all the world's problems can be resolved over lunch”.  It seems this just might be true.

A Success Story:  Turning Lemons into Lemonade — Speaking of ROI, last week one of our computers broke.  It wasn't the first time. As the computer is still under warranty, my husband took it to the dealer.  As a consequence of my sharing with him what I've learned in this negotiation course, my husband asked the repair staff to look up how many times the computer had been in for repairs (information gathering).  The staffer answered five, including replacement of the hard drive and logic board.

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Source:  istockphoto

My husband responded with “You know, I'm never going to let the warranty expire on this computer; it's been kind of a lemon.  Wouldn't it be cheaper if you just replaced it with a new one?”  (persuasive argument with the ask) A brief discussion with the manager ensued (someone who had authority) and my husband walked out of the store with a new $1,600 computer.

***

What are your thoughts?

Have you experienced the temporary win-lose dynamic — was it uncomfortable?

When did you last ask open-ended questions? What happened?

Who have you gone to lunch with recently?

Do you have a negotiating success story?

What would you like to know about what I'm learning that I haven't mentioned? 

Negotiating Our Dreams: Part 2 of 4

It's Week 2 of my class, She Negotiates; below are some snippets.

1.  Definition — Negotiation is a conversation in which two people with apparently conflicting interests reach an agreement.   Many view negotiation as win-lose:  one person wins, the other loses, a zero-sum game. But negotiation can be win-win:  both parties collaborate to win, everyone is happy.  Women tend toward the latter.

2)  Experimenting — Check out this blog The Daily Asker. in which the blogger documents her year-long experiment of asking for something daily.  Compelling and inspiring.  As we ask, we will likely get bumped around.  I know I did this week.  According to a NY Times article, Our Scars Tell the Stories of Our Lives, “scars are a sign of optimism.”  I guess that means I'm optimistic.  Very.

3)  Discovering — As I work through the mini-assignments, I'm recognizing that negotiating is a competency you and I can acquire.  When we negotiate we are learning to say say ‘yes' and ‘no', to make choices about who we want to be, and to act and not be acted upon — all are requisite for making our dreams happen.

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Source:  istockphoto

I'm also discovering that this can be a lot of fun, like a game, one at which we all can win.  In the words of one of our instructors Lisa Gates, “Doesn't it feel powerfully creative to know that you have all these toys in your treasure chest, or chocolate-covered cherries in your candy assortment?”  Yes, Lisa, it does.

***

What if each of us were to ask for something every day for a week?

When you negotiate, do you view it as a win-lose, or a win-win?  Does it depend on who you are negotiating with?

What was the last thing you negotiated?  What happened?

What were negotiations like in your family growing up?  How are they different now?

What toys would you like to add to your treasure chest?


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