Why you struggle to negotiate your worth?

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“I hope you are going to make much money”. Said “Albert” one of my colleague. He was happy  I was transitioning from being an employee to becoming a freelancer. However, I was  to discover how a subtle form of  chronic procrastination  can destroy your plans in No time.

Indeed, as I was starting out , I reached out a friend for help.
“How much should I asked as a freelance beginner?” “from 300 €to 450 € would be a good start because you are not in Paris” he said.
Then, I researched salaries’ ranges  and found 500 € -700 € was common in Paris.
So I made a firm decision “I will ask for 550 € per day as a starting point to obtain a minimum acceptable rate of 450 €”.
One week later, my phone rang. It was ex-manager now my first customer, “Aubin, how are you doing today?” she started smoothly. “fine, but a bit tired! I took part in Beaujolais marathon last weekend,” I replied.
“Sorry, you mean the marathon where attendants run and drink some red vine in between?”, she joked. “Yes, bla bla bla“ I continued.
Then she got down to business “well, how much do you expect for your services, You know I am not the only one in the decision’s loop”
 
I shut up, with a smile on my face.
I was about  to answer “€550 “ when a voice inside my head said “Maybe we are asking too much, It is no so bad if we charge less, it would still be better than what we had as an employee before”. And it happened. “I want €350”, I answered.
Needless to said that She didn’t even try to refuse my proposal and accepted right away; That’s how I understood I had screwed up the entire negotiation.
I couldn’t believe that. I had capitulated before the fight even got started.
When I hung up the phone, I started feeling this nauseous sensation of being disappointed by yourself. “That has to be the last time I lack the courage to ask for something”, I promise to myself. I had to figure out where this behavior came from at a deeper level.

What is the problem?

Lesson 1: High procrastinator are not even conscious of the subtle negative power of avoiding rejection

As I was looking for answers, I stumbled across a YouTube video that explained the first principle of the negotiation is to have the other side to say NO.

Now I could understand what had happened: I didn’t want to feel rejected, so much that I wanted to get my first proposal approved. I tried to fit in to receive a “YES” answer.

I had never suspected that my desire to be liked was so deeply rooted. In my earlier years as engineer, I was always focusing on getting experience and learning during negotiations. “Making money isn’t my primary concerns yet” I used to justify my choices.

That wasn’t a wrong a mindset.  However, I always felt I didn’t battle at the end of each negotiation. Anytime  I had an offer, my mind was screaming, ” Where do I sign, give me the pen and paper now? “

Now that I was more experienced, I was still making the same mistake.

My failure wasn’t that I asked too much and get rejected. My failure was: I didn’t HAVE THE COURAGE TO GO FOR WHAT I BELIEVED MY MINIMUM WORTH HAD TO BE.

Lesson 2: Address Emotions first, Logic comes afterwards

What is going on underneath is, there is an unconscious choice already set up. We prefer: “to please and not obtain what we want”, rather than getting “rejected and obtain what you want”.

However, when people talk about negotiation, they only insist on the logical perspective, nobody mentions the inertia due to emotion. Thus, we believe that preparation only means looking for a rational argument.

This happened in many other cases.

  • When we have to negotiate a salary raise with our Boss, and we believe that we shouldn’t ask more than 1% because of the mainstream idea.
  • When we decide not to apply to an opened position because we estimate this dreamed job requires more experience.
How do you quickly get comfortable to SAY “NO” before any negotiation, even if you feel unprepared? 

Solution:Uncover your conflicting thoughts

Take a pen and a piece of paper . Build one sentence for each step and repeat  writing it at least 23 times.
As you repeat the sentences, you will feel the emotions arise on your body. It is a good sign it works. Then the pressure on your shoulder will go under. Here is how the process goes:

Step 1: Explicit your conflicting thoughts

  • I want to ask for XXX, but I wonder if scenario YYY would happen because the mainstream idea says ZZZ.

Step 2: Accept you are going to displease the other side 

  • I accept that I might be rejected if I ask too much. 
  • I accept that person XXX won’t appreciate my behavior to do YYY 
  • I acknowledge that person XXX will get angry because my behavior to do YYY

Step 3: Make the appropriate unconscious choice to comes up to the surface

  • I prefer [ to do XXX , feel rejected and have YYY] rather than [to do ZZZ , feel safe, and not have UUU].

Example:

  • I want to ask for 550 €, but I worry if the recruiter will consider it too much because my colleagues said that €300-€350 is good (step 1).
  • I accept the possibility that the recruiter might be disappointed and decide to walk away to find other candidates (step 2).
  • I prefer to Ask for €550, feel rejected, and have €350 rather than asking €350, feel safe, and not obtain €550.
This process can last 10 min. It is better to repeat it few days before the negotiation takes place.
Once your emotions are out of the way, logical arguments can help.

Heudou Tchihikou Aubin

A master chronic procrastinator who chose to execute on his dreams because of frustration and self-criticism

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