Self-Fulfilling Prophecies and Negotiation

I think I was 12 when I first learned the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

“So you like, wish things into being? Like you think about them and then they happen?”

I thought it was made up gobbelty gook that only crazy people would believe.

Turns out, I’m wrong.

Well, kind of.

Pop-nonscience “invite it into your life” The Secret B.S. that modern day charlatans pedal is made up gobbelty gook. No matter how attractive it might seem (“I’m in control!”) it’s just not true.

By J. Paxon Reyes via

By J. Paxon Reyes via

But our perspective on how negotiations will go or how we think people will react to us when we ask for what we need does impact what we are able to get out of the negotiation, turns out.

When you believe that you have the ability to do a thing, you are willing to take more risks because your internal calculations skew toward success.

When you worry about whether someone will be mad at you if you ask for something you need (or just want), you are less likely to ask because your internal calculations skew toward failure. If you do ask, you’re more likely to ask for less than you actually need as a means of preemptively mitigating the other person’s (assumed! imaginary!) anger.

This is important!

Why? Because in my experience working with freelancers many of them think (1) they have poor negotiation skills and (2) if they ask for the price they need, the other person will get upset.

Before they even begin negotiating these folks are at a disadvantage because of how they’re thinking about the negotiation.

So what’s the solution? Tell everyone to be happy about the thing they’re scared of? Encourage people to think good thoughts? Clap as hard as you can?


You gotta practice.

By practicing negotiation skills you build up a bank of positive experiences. When entering into a new or more complex negotiation you can reflect on those positive experiences and realize, “Oh yeah, I can do this; I’ve done it before.”

Where to start? I suggest starting wherever you feel safest — practice in situations where you know the stakes are low and that the other person can’t possibly be mad at you if you say you want to go to to Pete’s instead of Starbucks for coffee.

As soon as you notice you can negotiate those things without worrying about how you’re doing or what someone’s thinking of you, up the ante, negotiate for something more important to you.

The other thing you should practice is feeling confident. For reals. The more practice you have feeling confident, the easier it is to convince yourself that you can handle whatever the situation is.

Weird things that will help give you a boost of confidence:

By Anime Nut via

By Anime Nut via

So get out there and practice!

Categories: Self Awareness Tools

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