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Find Your Purpose Through Politics

Find Your Purpose Through Politics

With a smile, you pass through the long security line at the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC. While the line of tourists streams forward into the Exhibition Hall, you turn right and head to the Senate appointment desk. There, you sign in, get an ID badge, and are guided by a security officer to a large meeting room. You mingle with political staffers, reporters, and various notables. Soon, your state’s Senator walks in. You introduce yourself, talk to the Senator one-on-one for several minutes, describe what you care about, and how he or she can help to improve US policy. The Senator hears you out, responds to your concerns, and connects with you on a human level.

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6-1-2 Rationality in Politics (Facebook)

    This story may sound unreal, but it does happen. I’m living proof, as that is my story.

    I, along with Agnes Vishnevkin, my wife and fellow Intentional Insights co-founder, met with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown at the constituent coffee hour that he holds regularly. We talked with him about the issues we cared about, such as using reason and science to inform education and family planning. We also shared with him about Intentional Insights and its mission of translating complex academic research into practical strategies and tools that help people achieve their goals in daily life. He heard us out and expressed support for our issues and perspectives, and endorsed the mission of Intentional Insights. I was especially surprised when, after I told him I research meaning and purpose and decision-making practices in the Soviet Union, he started speaking to me in Russian. Apparently, he studied Russian as his undergraduate major, and still remembered it, which impressed me quite a bit.

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      So, what does this political advocacy have to do with meaning and purpose? Well, a strong sense of meaning and purpose clearly correlates with serving others. Likewise, developing and cultivating social and community bonds generally leads to a powerful feeling of a meaningful and purposeful life. Our meeting with Senator Brown at constituent coffee hour included both.

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      We met Senator Brown as part of the 2014 Lobby Day and Policy Conference hosted by the Secular Coalition for America. We received training in how to lobby politicians, panel presentations on how to advocate for reason-based political decision-making, and supporting materials on the benefits of using science and data to inform policy. Such political advocacy offers an indirect but powerful means of serving others through influencing the government to adopt the most rational approaches in serving the public good. Moreover, the event offered the opportunity to develop and cultivate social and community bonds with fellow Americans who cared about reason-oriented political decision-making. I was excited and enthused to meet so many others across the country who wanted the government to make decisions based on rational evidence, not on traditional cached thinking patterns, gut reactions, genetic differences, or anti-science dogmatic claims.

      How you can get involved

      You don’t have to go to Washington to lobby your politicians. I carried my enthusiasm back home to Ohio, and indeed Ohio holds an annual Ohio Secular Summit, where you can lobby your state representatives in the same way that Agnes and I lobbied Senator Brown. And you can do so with other members of your community.

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      For example, Agnes and I are part of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, which organized a speaker to present about the Ohio Secular Summit before it occurred, and then Agnes compiled a blog post based on the experiences of those who participated. Ohio also has a highly active forum for political activities of interest to reason-minded individuals, where you can find out about relevant issues. Besides lobbying your representatives in person, you can call them, send them letters, e-mail them, sign petitions, and so on, and know you are participating in a broader action with others who care about the government making rationally-informed policies. To locate your own state forum, check out the Secular Coalition for America’s state chapters. Also, consider getting engaged in local politics, by learning about how local politics works, by voting in all elections and especially local ones, by being a poll watcher and vote counter, by running for local office, and in many other ways.

      Finding purpose through political advocacy

      The Ohio Secular Summit blog post describes how those who participated found it an empowering and meaningful experience. This demonstrates on a concrete level the research-based evidence of how we can gain a sense of purpose and meaning from serving others through political advocacy, especially when united together with members of our community in a way that helps cultivate social bonds. Calling, sending letters, e-mailing, and signing petitions is harder to translate into a visceral sense of meaning and purpose. I would suggest stopping and thinking intentionally about how you serve others through your political advocacy to advance the public good. Through such actions, you can become a true agent of change in your society, and find meaning and purpose through helping create a world where the government relies on research-based strategies to evaluate reality clearly and make effective decisions, enabling all of us to live happy, healthy, fulfilling, and flourishing lives.

      Here are some questions you might consider posing to yourself:

      • Have you engaged in any political advocacy, by yourself or with others, in your social circle?
      • If so, what benefits do you think you gained?
      • If not, how could you gain benefits from doing so? How could your local community and our society as a whole benefit from such activities on your part?
      • If you think these activities would be beneficial for you, what are some practical steps you can take to help yourself and others in your social circle engage in political advocacy?

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      Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

      Cognitive neuroscientist and behavioral economist; CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts; multiple best-selling author

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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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