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10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad

10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad

You just got dumped. Your company is going through a merge and it looks like you will be lose your job. Your mortgage payment is due tomorrow but you don’t have the money. You just got diagnosed with diabetes, or cancer, or heart disease. Sometimes when life gets tough, it’s hard to feel optimistic. Being positive is like flexing a muscle; the more you work it out the easier it gets. Here are a few quick hacks that can actually change the way your brain deals with negative situations.

1. Step Back And Assess Your Situation

Put distance between you and  positivity zappers like fear and anger. Try to look at your situation without emotion attached. In order to stay positive you need clarity. Just like sitting in the front row at the movies can make it hard to see the whole screen, when you are too close to the situation it can be a challenge to see it clearly. Describe your sitaution devoid of emotion in the simplest terms. For example, if you have lost your job you can get caught up in the emotion of feeling wronged or inadeqaute. Your worry can take over and lead you to imagine the worse case scenario like losing your home and your family. Before you let this downward spiral begin make a simple assessment. “I have lost my job. I need a plan to find a new job.”

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2. Remember Everything Can Be a Miraculous Opportunity

Everything can be an opportunity. When I speak to people who have cancer, it is amazing the number of stories where people, in hindsight, are grateful for their illness and even their losses. We do the most personal growth and change when we have had to dig deep. Recognizing this can release some of that fight-or-flight reaction. Remind yourself that people overcome negative things to be better versions of themselves. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, recognize that although you wouldn’t invite or celebrate what you are dealing with, you can accept it and move on.

3. Move Your Body, It Calms Your Mind

Exercise releases chemicals that calm and heal. It also provides a momentary escape from your thoughts. When you choose an activity like Zumba or tennis that requires focus and concentration, you give yourself a little time-out from thinking about your situation. When you finish whatever exercise you have chosen, your body will have released some calming chemicals and your mind will be refreshed. This can feel like coming at your problem from a new perspective.

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4. Wait and Breathe

When our body starts its fight-or-flight reaction the natural chemicals that are released impede our ability to make good decisions. Taking time to breathe deeply or to meditate couteracts the stress process that your body has started and enables you to use better judgement on how to proceed. This is one time when less is not more. Take as much time as you need to calm yourself before your begin planning or decision making.

5. Be Self-Compassionate

In a class I was recently teaching, I asked the participants to rate their compassion on a scale of one to ten. Most participants rated themselves as a seven or eight. But when I asked them to rate their self-compassion, many dipped down to a two or three. We truly can be our own harshest critic and worst enemy. Practice treating yourself the way you would a small child. Speak kindly to yourself. I like to imagine that everything I think about myself is immediately printed on my forehead. If I don’t want others to think I am forgetful, incompetent, or not enough then I cannot have these thoughts myself.

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6. Get Outside

David Suzuki recently studied the effects of spending 30 minutes outside everyday. Not surprisingly people were happier and less stressed out after they had spent time in nature. You don’t have to hike the Appalachians, just get on the roof and star gaze or feed the ducks in the park. The body relaxes and then releases chemicals that help lower blood pressure, heighten immunity and support emotional resilience.

7. Make a Plan

When the feeling of being overwhelmed hits, mapping out what your next steps are can be really useful. You cannot always solve the whole problem, but breaking what you need to do into manageable bites can stop the fight or flight reaction and allow you to take charge of your emotions.

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8. Create an Affirmation

An affirmation is a positive phrase that moves you towards what you want by behaving as though you already have it. Simple affirmations that you repeat to yourself in your head may be:

  • Right now, I am okay.
  • I am resilient
  • Things are getting better
  • I am stable during life’s ups and downs.

Or you can create a more specific and advanced one like:

  • I attract abundance and love
  • My awareness is anchored in tranquility.
  • I easily find a new job that I love.
  • I fully accept myself and know that I am worthy of great things in life.

9. Move Towards What You Want

Part of moving towards what you want is knowing what that is. For example if you are ending a relationship instead of thinking “I don’t want to be with someone who treats me badly” you might think “I deserve a partner who treats me with kindness and love”. The difference might seem subtle but moving toward something is always more concrete than escaping something. The universe loves specificity!

10. Find Moments of Gratitude

There is always something to be thankful for. Even life seems to be kicking you when you are down, there is always something to be thankful for. When my daughter was diagnosed with autism and I was feeling very sorry for myself, I met a mom who had a daughter the same age who had autism and leukemia. My child was not dealing with fighting for her life alongside her new diagnosis. Comparison isn’t always the thief of joy. Sometimes it can remind us of the good things we have. As you practice gratitude for these things, your brain strengthens its ability to find things to be grateful for and soon you will be seeing good all around you. A great way to get started is with a  joy journal where you make a daily list of 3 things you are thankful for. As you make a practice of acknowledging the good things in your life, you become more positive.

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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