Negotiation’s Silent Actors


Belief in an outcome always precedes its realization.


When you enter into a negotiation, whether it be: negotiating your salary, selling a product or trying to get your three-year daughter to eat her vegetables, there are silent actors at play. They often operate in your subconscious, but ultimately dictate the outcome of your negotiations.

What You Want

The first step in a negotiation is to determine what you want. Let’s use salary negotiation as an example.

Say you’re job-hunting, you get called in for an interview and things are looking good. Your mind starts wandering to all the possibilities. “Could this be my first six-figure job? Oh, I hear that bonus plan is sweet…”

You start seeing yourself sporting that new BMW convertible and living the sweet life. Then it comes time to start talking money, so you conjure up the salary figure that you think you want.

But here’s the deal, you’re not going to get that number. You know it, the employer knows, and I know it without even knowing what the number is.

Wait, how do I know this?

Because of those silent actors I mentioned…

What You Believe

You don’t get what you want in a negotiation, you get what you believe.

While you’re busy daydreaming about how much that new degree is going to fetch you on in the open market, deep down inside you don’t actually believe it. You start looking to outside factors like: the economy, a bad job market, non-profits don’t pay well, that Facebook photo your potential employer found that never should have surfaced… Whatever it is, you start injecting self doubt into the equation and now all of sudden, whether you realize or not, the number you believe you’re worth is actually far less than you want.

Anchoring yourself with doubt and layering on low expectations because of external circumstances creates a disempowering situation where you end up “settling”. I predict you will always end-up getting, within a couple of percentage points, the salary you believe you’re worth. I say within a couple percentage points because, if you believe you’re worth $100k, you’ll settle for $97,500 but won’t get more than $103,000 on a good day.

Sometimes, these beliefs are subconscious so you don’t even know they’re there.The great news though, is that there is a remedy.

You’re first, and most important job, is to close the delta between what you want in life and what you believe you’re worth. You have to re-anchor yourself to higher ground.

Belief in an outcome precedes its realization.

If you don’t believe you’re worth what you want, the person sitting across the table from you won’t believe it either.

Now, back to negotiating with your three year old to eat her vegetables. You know you really want her to chow down on that plate full of spinach, but do you really believe she will?

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