I’m sure I can’t be the only one to wonder what life would be like if mums were on speed dial in negotiating emergencies.
A little part of me, call it the devil in me, likes to think that there would be lots of time out suggestions for those people who can’t cool their tempers, and threats of taking both sides of the deal away if they don’t behave before the deal is finally struck.
Mums are negotiators par excellence. Faced with 2, 3 or more children all wanting different things, and Mum wanting something different again, how can a solution that all are happy with possibly be reached? Well it can’t. And Mums know that. It’s a very early lesson. The trick is ensuring that everyone comes away with at least some of what they wanted and is content.
A tough call with kids.
Business is no different. Negotiating is a regular occurrence, and a necessary skill. We aren’t all natural negotiators and, indeed, some of us never quite get used to it. Some of us even dread having to do it but know we have no choice.
Of course, in business, there are negotiation skills courses that you can take to improve and develop your success rates. I don’t know of any for Mums; would we take them if there were? I think there have certainly been times when I could have done with a hand on the negotiating front at home.
The problem with having a child who sees you running a business, and who you discuss work with, is that they start to improve their skills on the back of your experience. Negotiating with my youngest son reminds me of the excruciatingly embarrassing training courses I attended way back at the start of my sales career. You know you have to go through the motions because you are expected to, so you fix a gritted smile to your face, rock up, do your best and know that ultimately you’re going to lose because the trainer is the expert. And you’re not.
I’ve given up thinking of it as negotiating. It’s now just a done deal. It’s more putting my side, listening to his, and then telling him that I’m the oldest, I’m in charge, I’m the mum – he’s the kid – therefore I win.
That works with my teenager (at the minute) but I’m not sure it would work in my other life as an entrepreneur. Luckily, at work I’m not such a pushover and don’t tend to pull the age card but, being very honest, negotiating is not my favourite thing. Confidence, knowing what you want to achieve as an outcome and a belief in what you are saying, is vital if you are to be successful.
My confidence was quite badly knocked when my marriage broke down and I became a single mum and, although I’ve worked hard on it, I still have moments when I find it hard to negotiate for what I want. At work and at home.
I’m sure that’s not uncommon, and some of you may be nodding in agreement.
Negotiating skills are another part of daily life as a single mum, and something that entrepreneurs have to develop very early on in their careers. Very few of us are comfortable with it but we get better as we get more practice, and more confident as we achieve our desired outcomes.
Next time you have acted as Supreme Negotiator in your home, think about how the result, the skills you used – and whether you couldn’t do the same in a business scenario.
I bet you could.
I believe in you; take some time to believe in you too!
See you tomorrow ladies.