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An Open Letter To All 20-Somethings: Don’t Panic!

An Open Letter To All 20-Somethings: Don’t Panic!

The first and most important thing is: life does not get easier. Being an adult is not easy and won’t ever get any easier. Why? Because you will face new problems as life goes on. With each stage in your life, you will learn lessons that will help mold you into the person you were destined to be. Your twenties will be where most of those lessons are learned. I suppose this is not what you wanted to read. Perhaps you expected me to come up with something magnificent and inspiring. You were expecting something intelligent that will teach you the secrets to living an easy life.

I am here to tell you that there is no secret in the world that will keep your heart from breaking, dreams from crashing, and your faith from fading at some points in your life. Your best chapters in your life will most likely be written in your twenties—you just don’t know it yet. Your heart mends, your dreams change, and your faith comes back… so don’t panic. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. You must learn to let it be.

Planning your life down to the minute is not the way to live. You are in your twenties… you absolutely are not expected to have everything figured out, so stop acting like it! I have found that if you plan everything down to the very second, life gets even more hectic and you aren’t exactly living.

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That 10-year plan that you wrote in high school is really more like a guideline and not exactly a map to your life. It is great to have goals, but we are our own harshest critics. If you don’t get that call back for your dream job at 22, don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick yourself up and keep trying. That doesn’t necessarily mean keep calling the company that didn’t call you back either. If a door closes in your face, let it be. Keep going because there are so many other doors to knock on and the one you walk through will be the right one.

2. Forever isn’t really forever in your twenties.

This goes for every aspect of your life. This goes for what you think is a dream job, where you want to live, who you want to be with. Almost everything in your life at the moment is temporary. At this point in your life, it is okay to not be sure of what you want to be when you grow up (even if you feel as if you are grown up). As of right now, I have been a barista, served in the military, worked in a daycare, worked with small business owners to fix their credit, been a barista again, become a wedding planner, written articles for a great website, and now am planning events for one of the greatest companies I have ever worked for. Trust me, nothing is permanent in your twenties. You will constantly change your mind—and that is completely okay!

Speaking of things not being permanent, do not beat yourself up over your current “love.” Don’t go looking around for the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with at this age. If your soulmate happens to stumble into your life, perfect! If not, that’s okay. Right now, you are really figuring things out. Heartbreak pains go away with good company and laughter. Keep your friends close and you will soon get over it. Also, when your friends tell you that someone is toxic, listen to them. More than likely, they are right. If they see that the person you love does not treat you the way you should be treated and say something to you, do not ignore it. They truly care for you and only wish the best for you.

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One last note on this subject: if the person you love lays a hand on you, they do not love you. That truth is plain and simple… THEY DO NOT LOVE YOU. Stop making excuses for their awful behavior and cut them lose. You will eventually forget their phone number, where they live, and their name. Trying to fit them into your life is like you trying to fit a piece of a completely different puzzle into the one you are working on. It will fit for now, but eventually you will need to get rid of it to move on and complete it. They will only hold you back from becoming the amazing person you are meant to be.

3. Your giant group of friends will eventually become a small circle.

At this point in your life, you will start to go from about a hundred friends to about five really good friends that you can trust. Get rid of the ones that are negative all the time, get rid of anyone that says they “love you,” but abuses you either physically or mentally. None of these people are worth your time. At this point in your life, the sky is the limit, but you have to get rid of the extra baggage before you fly. I know that we all try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if they are keeping you from growing up and getting out there in the world, you do not need them.

You will find good people out there that will want nothing but to see you happy and successful. Don’t be afraid of the world—there are a lot of nice people that will be willing to grow with you and experience what life’s new chapter has in store.

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4. Now’s the time to see the world.

It is “too expensive,” you say? Let me break it down for you, okay? Let’s say you buy a large cup of coffee at your local café for about $5.95 every single day for a year (this is excluding the second time you go there to get your afternoon cup), how much would you have? The math is $5.95 x 365 = $2,171.75. That is a trip to Mexico, Canada, another state, Europe, and the list goes on the longer you save. Travel is something that everyone should experience. Seeing the world and experiencing a different culture is an eye-opener. So get your passport ready and get out in the world for a bit.

5. Slumps aren’t only for baseball.

You will go through several slumps in life. You will accept job offers that leave you baffled on your first day. You will have some tough times financially, you will experience heartbreak, and you won’t get called back for that interview, but just think of it as a slump. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn: you just can’t be in control all of the time. Things might not go as you planned them out when you were 18 years old, but you’ve just got to roll with the punches. Your twenties are supposed to be the best part of the roller coaster called life.

All in all, these are going to be the best and worst years of your life. Do not be afraid to make memories. Don’t be afraid to go to the party tonight because of the hangover tomorrow—trust me, they get worse as you get older, so do it now!

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Dream big, smile often (even when you don’t feel like it) and meet new people so you can narrow it down to the friends that you are going to keep for life. Most importantly, you need to learn. Learn as much as you can because we are expected to make countless mistakes. So by all means, make them. You are still growing and still learning, and that is okay.

Featured photo credit: Alex/ College Graduation via flickr.com

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Margielyn Musser

Event And Volunteer Coordinator / World Traveler

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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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