Answering What You Want is Not So Simple

iStock_000006026345SmallI typically spend time role-playing with clients. I know, doesn’t it sound horrific? No one wants to be put on the spot. No one wants to show that she truly did not understand some part of the negotiation training. No one wants to show how nervous she is about negotiating her pay. These are exactly the reasons we role-play.

I find one stumbling point very interesting. I ask the question, “What do you want?” while playing the manager. The reply often is a laundry list of WHY the woman should get more pay, better perks, or that promotion with no reference to the WHAT she wants.   I then ask the question again. “Tell me what would make you happy?” Again no direct answer is given.   I come out of manager character and ask the client to listen and answer just the question being asked. Back into manager character I ask, “If I could give you everything you want, what would it be?” This is after determining goal pay, a counter-offer, and the benefits that matter to the clients. Still no direct answer.

My clients are not alone getting tongue-tied. Many of us struggle to be direct and speak our mind. To successfully negotiate anything you need to KNOW what you want before you can get it. Then you need to be able to STATE what you want. I think the issue lies more in the knowing than the ability to state it based on my non-scientific research of clients, students, and workshop attendees.   So much pressure is put on the answer that you may freeze.

What if you can’t achieve what you want? Then you try again.

What if no one will give you what you want? Then figure out a way to get it yourself.

What if you are not deserving of what you want? Of course you are deserving. You are YOU after all!

What if what you want is crazy? Great, because it’s the crazy stuff that is really worth going after.

What if what you want changes? Of course it will. I still don’t want to kiss Danny Bonaduce of Patridge Family fame.

Sure, in my personal life I want love and companionship and world peace yet what I really want is to eat chocolate every day and not gain a pound nor worry about my cholesterol. In the business world I want a job that I’m good at and enjoy while being paid appropriately. I want to be acknowledged for that work. I want to have a strong enough network that I know I can find a job should I suddenly be without a job. I want to understand the signs at work that I’m never “suddenly without a job.” I want my job to be an interesting part of me but not the definition of me.

Now tell me, what do you want?