The Best Way To Negotiate? Don't Try To Be Someone You're Not

If you pretend your personal life doesn’t exist the moment you walk into the office, you may want to reconsider. There’s room for your personality and experiences to inform your professional life, and they can even bring you more success at the negotiating table.

Why?

When you act in ways that are inconsistent with how you perceive yourself, you’re less likely to have success. Daniel Shapiro created the relational identity theory, which he explores in his book, “Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts.” He wrote that when you feel pressured to change yourself, you turn to self-protective behaviors that may actually backfire. So if somewhere in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “I need to ask for a raise, but I really don’t know what I’m doing. This just isn’t me,” you’re setting yourself up for self-sabotage by lowering your expectations and decreasing your chances of achieving the desired outcome.

Self-awareness and mental preparation are just as important as the benchmarking and competitive research you do to prepare for a negotiation. If you already realize that you don’t perceive yourself as someone who’s good at negotiating, congratulations! You’re halfway there.

The good news is that expectations drive behaviors. Change your expectations and you will influence your actions and your outcome. That’s why I’m a firm believer in not making a backup plan when you’re striving to achieve a really important goal. Thinking about your Plan B makes you work less hard to make Plan A happen. Decide that you’re going to bring a creative problem solving mindset to your negotiation and find a way to make it happen using all aspects of your life and work that are relevant.

One way to bring your whole self to the table is to think about who else benefits from your success. Women have more success when they negotiate on behalf of others, which is good news for many daily workplace negotiations which are on behalf of your team or your company. A technique I like is to think specifically about who looks up to you and who celebrates with you. Who do you call first with good news? Bring that energy into your conversation.

Take a cue from Margaret A. Neale, the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and my favorite negotiation researcher, who says, “When I negotiate, I don’t negotiate for myself. I negotiate for my husband, four dogs, seven horses, and 14 chickens. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. And it works.” She shares her negotiation framework in this video.

If you’re not sure how to begin integrating work and personal life, one tool I recommend exploring is Enhancv. Enhancv is an online tool that lets you create a modern, attractive resume. What I love about it is that it goes beyond the basics like work experience and education. You can incorporate unconventional sections like My Time, which is a pie chart showing how you spend your day, Passions, Quotes and Strengths. (Note: some of these features are paid.)


Need more inspiration? Here’s an example Enhancv resume using Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s background. It includes her life philosophy, strengths, and what she’s most proud of.

This post originally appeared in Women@Forbes, where Alexandra Dickinson is a contributor. She writes about how to use a negotiation mindset to achieve your goals.