I am an expert negotiator.

Sure, I may pay full price for a car. I may get gouged for a water heater or a new air-conditioning unit. And I certainly lose most of the negotiations with my wife.

However, when I negotiate with myself, I always win.

Let me explain.

I train (exercise) everyday (with rare exception). Before I begin, I’ve already begun the negotiations. “Next item up for business: you planned to run 6 miles. Are you going to run 6 miles?” And then the process begins. It’s like an epic courtroom drama, the slick defense attorney vs. the conservative prosecutor.

Once I begin the run, the negotiations continue. Of course, the moment I sense a twang in my right knee or a ping in my left foot, it’s like a new exhibit has been entered into evidence.

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.” —Vince Lombardi

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” —Henry Ford

Sometimes I can convince myself to complete the 6 miles. Other times, I’ve negotiated a new outcome, one that realizes itself at around 3 or 4 miles. The evidence is almost always compelling: “You don’t want to get injured. Better to play it safe.”

While I think this process is healthy, it’s important to be conscious of one thing: do not allow your negotiations to become one-sided. In other words, if you’re regularly negotiating downwards (turning a 50-mile ride into a 30-miler, a 4,000 yard swim into 2,500), you must make sure to also negotiate upwards. On the days when you feel good, extend your bike ride, add an extra 20 minutes to your swim session, or run a couple extra loops around the block. And make sure this mindset transcends the treadmill and finds its way into your professional life. Negotiate upwards at work by minding the power of questions, daily goals, and self-talk:

Questions

Ask yourself carefully-crafted questions. “What can I do to increase productivity today?” “What can I do right now to help meet this quarter’s revenue goals?” The answers to these questions will help compel you to go forward.

Daily Goals

I like to jot these down in the morning, and if I’m spending a lot of time in front of a computer, I’ll put a Post-it Note or two onto the monitor to keep me focused on that day’s goals. Also, I’ll make an effort to visualize the attainment of these goals during morning meditation. Clear awareness of your daily goals should help you negotiate upwards, as daily goals should promote purpose.

Self-talk

Be mindful of your self-talk. As Lao Tzu noted, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions; Watch your actions; they become habits.” As you negotiate throughout the day, nudge your self-talk toward affirmation and optimism, employing language like “You can do this. Dig deep. Just make one more call.”

It’s okay to be an expert negotiator. But a real expert should be good at getting the most out of every negotiation.

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