Manage your emotions before, during and after a negotiation
Negotiations can get emotional, to say the least. Whether you’re asking for a raise, more resources for your team or to restructure your position, you might feel anxious, reluctant or worried. But you won’t be successful if you’re worked up, so take steps to handle your emotions. Before the negotiation, ask yourself how your counterpart might respond — and why. Doing so will help you identify potential setbacks and gather additional information to respond to their challenges. The more you prepare, the less anxious you will feel. During the negotiation, if you find yourself getting upset or nervous, pause and reflect on the underlying reasons and formulate a strategy to address them. After the negotiation, try to avoid carrying negative emotions. Reflect instead on the moments you were most proud of during your interaction, and focus on how you will use your experience to get the result you want in the future.
(This tip is adapted from “3 of the Most Common Challenges Women Face in Negotiations,” by Mara Olekalns et al.)
How to protect time for your big projects
When you’re trying to tackle an important project that requires concentrated attention, it’s easy to be overly optimistic about your time and to think you’ve got all day — or even several hours — to get it done. But when you consider all of the meetings, emails, Slack messages, calls and “quick questions” that take up your day, you probably have less time than you think. So when you do get a 60- to 90-minute block, focus exclusively on your highest priority project and ruthlessly protect yourself from distractions. Complex and important projects usually have some administrative tasks associated with them that don’t require as much focus or creativity. Slot those to-dos into other times (say, in between meetings) so they don’t distract from your focus. It can also help to know what you need to do next on your project, so that you can dive right in. You don’t want to spend precious focused time trying to find the source materials for your presentation or hunting down a room to sequester yourself. Remove any barriers so you are ready to go.
(This tip is adapted from “5 Mental Mistakes That Kill Your Productivity,” by Alice Boyes.)
How to respond to a surprise in a negotiation
When you’re caught off guard in a negotiation, it’s normal to freeze up. After all, you weren’t prepared for your counterpart to change the deadline, take back a promise or deliver an ultimatum. If this happens to you, try to avoid immediately jumping to a conclusion. Instead, suspend judgement, consider “I wonder what led them to say that,” and then ask at least one question. For example, if an employee unexpectedly demands a raise by saying, “I’ve been undervalued for too long,” try not to shut down the request, even if you think it’s off base. Ask something like: “Can you walk me through your thinking? What would getting a raise mean to you personally?” This kind of questioning might surface the employee’s real need — perhaps, to be seen as an important contributor — and then you could negotiate an adjustment around the employee’s visibility rather than their pay.
(This tip is adapted from “When Surprise Is a Good Negotiation Tactic,” by Roi Ben-Yehuda and Tania Luna.)
Project confidence in your next presentation
Many of us feel anxious when we’re speaking or presenting at a big meeting, but there’s lots of research on what you can do to look confident and competent in front of an audience. The key is to pay special attention to your body language. Make eye contact and avoid looking at your slides. A few glances are OK, but not at the beginning of your presentation. Also, keep an open posture with your arms uncrossed and your palms turned up. Remove any barriers — such as a lectern or a laptop — between you and the audience. And find areas of your presentation where gestures would help highlight key points or emphasize a concept. For example, if you’re listing a number of items, use your fingers to count them off. The last step? Practice until you get it right. Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes more time than you expect. There’s nothing more influential than the power of your presence matching the power of your ideas.
(This tip is adapted from “How to Look and Sound Confident During a Presentation,” by Carmine Gallo.)
Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, December 2nd, 2019