Why Practice Negotiating?

It was a Tuesday night in NYC, around 8pm. I had just finished a day at work, and then a workout class. On the way home I was starving, and went into a pizza place I had never been to.

Have you ever considered yourself a member of any of these groups during your life?

  • Athlete
  • Dancer
  • Musician
  • Singer
  • Actor

If your answer was yes to any of those bullet points, you have probably had to practice your sport or craft before. Why do we practice?

We practice so we can make mistakes and improve in a low stakes environment. When you practice, you try out new things, weed out the stuff that doesn’t work, and perfect the stuff that works well. As an athlete, your high stakes scenario would be a soccer game. As a dancer, it would be a dance performance. If you were a mathlete (math athlete), your high stakes event would be a competition. For the sake of consistency, let’s refer to any higher stakes event as a performance.

Imagine if you were a runner on race day and had never practiced, or a saxophone player at a concert and hadn’t rehearsed. You would probably be so nervous that even the number one rated antiperspirant wouldn’t stop your sweat.

Amateurs and professionals in all of these fields understand that practice is vital for success, but somehow we all don’t think to practice relevant business skills. The same way a dancer practices technique, you should practice negotiation.

Negotiation can be SO SCARY, it’s true! It’s uncomfortable and you may feel exposed or even fraudulent. That is why you need to practice. Negotiating for little things over and over again will make your brain adjust. That way, you’ll be familiar with the pit in your stomach that you may get when you negotiate. The first few times I asked for free pizza I felt so uncomfortable! I still sometimes feel uncomfortable doing it. And if you don’t like pizza, no biggie--ask for another inexpensive item you’d like. The idea is, repeated exposure makes it less scary to make that ask. When the stakes are higher and the ‘free pizza’ I'm asking for is a salary raise, I feel more confident. The ability to maintain composure and strength is necessary when negotiating. So give it a shot, practice negotiating!