I wrote recently about how to know when it’s time to walk away from a negotiation, and my advice was about knowing what your goals are in advance, and therefore being able to evaluate whether an offer wasn’t high enough to meet your needs.
But what if your negotiation isn’t about money, but rather, about opportunity? Now your choice might not feel so cut and dry.
This could be a partnership with an unfamiliar company, or the chance to take on new management responsibilities. Perhaps it’s joining a team that’s willing to take a chance on you even though your skills don’t quite match up with their requirements, or moving to a new city for a job at a startup.
You’re thinking about the stories you’ll tell your friends and family about your success. Maybe the money is great; the opportunities for growing your career seem huge.
All except for a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right.
You don’t quite trust the new partner; you won’t be given additional resources to manage a huge team. Maybe you don’t actually want to move away from your friends and community.
This is the time to trust your gut. Ask every question you have, even if you think it might sound dumb. Now is not the time to feel sheepish about getting into the details. If they’ll be frustrated with you for revisiting something now, what does that tell you about the type of partnership you can expect going forward?
How do you decide whether you should go back to the bargaining table or move on?
Break it down by asking yourself these three questions:
If you could renegotiate one (or more) of the terms, would you be satisfied with the deal?
Perhaps your sticking point is about something concrete, like knowing you’ll have opportunities to get trained on new skills, or an extra trip to the city you’d be moving to so you can get started on your house hunt. If this is the case, let them know you’re excited about the opportunity, but need to revisit a few items before you can commit. Explain why the issue is important to you and be open to creative solutions to meeting your needs.
Are you skeptical of their promises?
You’re being asked to take on some significant management tasks, but you haven’t been given any concrete resources that would help ensure your success. There have been hints that this move will be good for your career — you’ll be more visible to leadership, you might get a raise next year… Do you believe it? Or are you just agreeing to more work? If you think there’s truth to their promises, ask them to give you some concrete reassurance by putting it in writing and setting up check in meetings to review your progress.
Finally, would you secretly feel relieved if you declined this opportunity?
This really comes down to trust — honor your intuition and resist the pressure to make a decision quickly. Someone wants to partner with you on a project, and she keeps moving forward and pushing even though you’ve expressed hesitations. It’s up to you to remember to pause. Know that just because the train is leaving the station doesn’t mean you have to get on. Ask yourself what the consequences would be if you declined, and if you can live with them.
If you do need to walk away, prepare for your conversation by setting an intention. This could be as simple as, “My intention is to take care of my own needs while still showing respect to my counterpart.” Write it down and put it somewhere you can see it.
Your conversation may be challenging, but the relief you’ll feel at the end will be worth it.
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.