Any agreement — written or verbal, paid or unpaid — usually requires some type of negotiation. One side presents what they would like to see happen and the other counters with what would work better for them. Then another discussion (or several) with some more back and forth, and then the final agreement.
This is true for client work, product placement, speaking engagements, having something fixed around your home, or deciding who is going to tackle what on the to-do list. Business and life require negotiating — on a daily basis.
At times negotiating is more emotionally painful than it should be. You’ve faced your fears, asked for what you wanted, and then felt like you were punched in the gut by the other person’s shock that you would dare attempt to negotiate at all.
While it's politically correct to talk a big game about supporting other women, it's worth noting that the only times I’ve tried to negotiate and have been labeled a bitch or a narcissist because I did so has been by other women, never by men. This is true for many of my female colleagues as well.
Sometimes the other person won’t resort to profanity or obvious name-calling. Sometimes they’ll class it up with passive-aggressive language like, “Her ego has gotten out of control. What a shame” or, “She should be grateful we want to include her on this project at all” or, “Who does she think she is?”
And sometimes the punishment is not just in the language the other chooses to use but also in action, such as being pushed out of a project. This is often done slowly and in a passive-aggressive way, so that it's not obvious to anyone else.
This doesn't always happen, of course, but when it does it still takes me by surprise. Life is give and take. Some compromise is usually required by all sides. Wanting to negotiate is normal.
Don't expect people to fight fair. More importantly, don't allow that to make you cynical.
Know your worth.
Ask for what you want.
Have the difficult conversations.
It may be uncomfortable in the moment, but choosing to do what’s best for your business and family is a priority that should be guarded closely.
Originally published January 2016