Stop negotiating with yourself

Stop negotiating with yourself
John Daly

This article originally appeared in the McCombs Today blog.

You've long wanted to buy a really nice car -- say, a new Mercedes. Next year, your firm has a fabulous year. (Why not? It could happen.) Soon after the announcement of the "great year," your boss strolls into your office, congratulates you for being a key contributor and hands you a $30,000 bonus (taxes are, of course, taken care of). That evening, you're driving home. As you pass the Mercedes dealership, you spy the car of your dreams with a $45,000 price tag on the window. What do you do?

Most people motor right by. "I don't have $45,000," they think. "The dealer would never sell that car for a third less than the listed price."

Really? How do they know that? Maybe the dealership hasn't sold a car for three weeks. And, it's the end of the month. Perhaps a new model arrives next week and the dealer must clear the floor. Who knows?

What do savvy people do instead? They walk in and say, "Want to sell me that car? I'll give you $30,000 right now. Deal?"

What's the worst that could happen? The salesperson might laugh and escort you out. Who cares? But if you don't ask, I absolutely guarantee you that you won't get that car.

Many people negotiate too much with themselves. Rather than going after their dreams, they construct a medley of reasons why they shouldn't have what they deserve. You know you merit a raise. But rather than asking, you come up with all sorts of reasons why your boss can't give you one -- the company is having a tough time, other people deserve raises more than you, the boss is a tightwad. Stop thinking that way. Instead, lay out for the boss what you want and why.

Successful people will tell you that a secret of their success is that they ask for what they want and deserve. Your firm is opening an office in Zurich. If you want to run that office, why not ask for the position? Maybe your boss's eyes will light up and she'll say you'd be perfect. You're at a crowded party and spy an extraordinarily attractive stranger across the room. Why not walk over and introduce yourself? Who knows, the person may be looking for someone just like you.

Stop negotiating with yourself.


Professor John Daly from the College of Communication and the McCombs School of Business has won 11 teaching awards as well as a number of prestigious research honors, including being one of only 50 scholars in the world named a Fellow of the International Communication Association.