[Picture courtesy of a4gpa]
Following on from previous articles, in which I discussed assertiveness and how to say ‘no’, I’m now going to discuss why you should add negotiation to your growing list of skills. As with overcoming many of the symptoms of social anxiety, negotiation is about maintaining a balance between being fair to yourself and fair to others.
Learn how to change your steps
Social interaction is like an intricate dance. When people want you to think or behave in a certain way they’ll perform steps, using persuasive language and gestures, for you to follow.
If you suffer from social anxiety then you probably fall in the trap of either being too passive, and obediently following their lead, or too aggressive, and refusing to dance altogether.
Being too passive or aggressive are not helpful modes of behaviour. If you’re infected with the ‘disease to please’ then people will take you for granted and might push you around. Whilst getting mad makes it difficult to think and behave logically, hampering your ability to persuade people why they should respect your opinions and priorities.
Learning to negotiate is about learning to nimbly change your dance steps so that you can prompt others to change theirs and have more control over your interactions.
It’s not about winning or losing
Social anxiety is driven by thinking errors that result from low self esteem and negative thinking. One of the common thinking errors is ‘all or nothing’ in which you believe that you and others must behave in a certain way. So if you have a disagreement with someone and want them to change their mind you think that you must persuade them to meet your demands or they’ve won.
It’s a mistake to think that life is about winning or losing. This extreme, inflexible approach is unhelpful and unrealistic. Demanding that other people should always fit in with your priorities, such as agreeing to immediately perform a task for you at work or walk your dog when you’re on holiday, is only going to lead to stress and frustration when people don’t meet your unrealistic expectations.
Instead of making demands that people must fit in with what you want, you should offer some leeway and be prepared to negotiate.
Successful negotiation is about being fair to yourself and fair to others in finding a solution in which you can both, at least partially, get what you want. Finding a balanced agreement is the constructive approach, rather than getting angry or frustrated from thinking that you have to get the better of the other person.
Try asking work colleagues what other priorities they have to attend to before they can perform your task, or arrange to split the dog walking with another neighbour.
Negotiation is finding a solution in which you both gain
When you enter into negotiation, whether it’s with work colleagues or friends, don’t try to get what you want by being aggressive, manipulative or demanding. Instead approach it as an intricate dance in which you’re trying to influence the outcome, but are also prepared to change your own steps to compliment your partner.
Negotiation is about finding a solution in which you both can gain, rather than an ugly confrontation in which you must either win or lose.