What do you want?
One of the most valuable skills anyone can cultivate in life is to be clear about what they want. Then it helps to have the courage to go out and get it. This may seem kind of self-evident, but it actually requires a bit more self-knowledge, i.e., personal development, than some might think. Additionally, it requires thorough preparation. And from my own experience as well as my experience teaching negotiation skills, this is what people most often underestimate. Yet it can make all the difference.
My conviction is that in order to negotiate well, you need to be authentic. That means you need to know what you want, and I mean what you really want. Advertising bombards us with ideas of what we should want, we can’t hear our own true voice amidst the cacophony of capitalism.
And then of course as social beings, we adopt the values of our environment without even being aware of it. We grow up with beliefs that are so embedded into our subconscious that we take them for truths. We may never put them in question even though they influence our decision-making on a daily basis. Do you want what you want because you really want it, or because you were taught to want it? How can you tell the difference?
Over the years, I have found a helpful form of measurement for myself. It is not only a feeling of satisfaction, but also the duration of that feeling. Of course, what gives you satisfaction is totally subjective. But you will probably feel pretty satisfied right after you reach your goal. But how long does that feeling last? If you notice yourself feeling flat or disinterested about your achievement rather soon, it’s possible that it was based on extrinsic motivation. In other words, you were motivated by external factors to pursue that goal.
External factors could be approval from your peers, praise from your parents, acknowledgement from your boss or employer, attention from a romantic partner etc. All these things have their place; we do not live in a vacuum. And sometimes they gives us a needed KITA: “kick in the ass” to quote Frederick Hertzberg. Nevertheless, sustainable satisfaction and long-term contentment tends to come from intrinsically motivated accomplishments.
Preparation is key to improving your negotiation skills and understanding what drives you intrinsically. Let me give you an example from my life that is perhaps a bit paradox. I recently bought myself a panel van and leisure activity vehicle. The reason why I write that this example is a bit paradox is because a car is often considered a status symbol. And status symbols are usually about external validation.
But I did not buy that car on a whim. Visions of road trips and being close to the great outdoors have always filled my vacation fantasies. And I did a lot of research and preparation in terms of what I wanted, what I needed, and what I could afford. Looking at different models that were available and comparing price with performance was my favorite pastime for a while. So I had the more technical or “rational” aspects covered.
But what was more decisive was looking closely at my motives for wanting to buy that car. I did not want to wake up two weeks after my purchase and regret my decision. Why did I want it, really?
Well, I very much enjoy camping. But what’s more is how that car symbolizes my most prominent values: autonomy, flexibility, adventure, and at the same time safety and comfort. And this is where self-knowledge plays a really important role. Sure a fancy hotel is nice for a weekend, but for a proper vacation, I want to explore the great outdoors.
Every time I get in that car, I feel a spark of joy combined with pride. And a lot of that pride is because I got what I wanted for a really great price. The research and patience paid off. It’s been 6 months, and I don’t regret it yet.
Sometimes it’s scary to admit to yourself what you want. Especially if it goes against the expectations of your environment or against the image other people may have of you. And so we return to authenticity. Developing the courage and the skill to not only know what you want, but to be what you want, will greatly improve your negotiation skills and increase the quality of your life. I really recommend it.
Keep growing <3 <3 <3