All posts tagged #Negotiation

Say Maybe to No Before Yes

Habits comfort and constrict. Reading at night before you go to sleep signals to your body and mind that the day is at an end and dreams are up ahead. Planning your day puts you in control of the hours, or at least makes you feel that way. Saying yes all the time puts me in a bind. I know that no is a good word. It’s just that it sounds so negative I find it difficult to say.

The power of saying no without feeling the guilt of letting someone down or hurting someone’s feelings is a power I’ve just started wielding. Trying to wield, is a more accurate statement. I haven’t gone all power hungry and “Just Say No” tyrant on the world. I’m just saying no a little bit more.

I’ve said no in the past. But I’ve never stopped with “no, thank you.” No, I must add a reason­–I already have plans with so-and–so, or an excuse­­–can’t make that date, or apology–I’m so sorry I just don’t have room in my schedule. I do the same thing when I receive a compliment.

“Your necklace is beautiful.”

“Oh, thank you, it’s my mother’s aunt’s hand-me-down, wasn’t even sure if I liked it when I got it.”

 

“I like your dress.”

“Nordstrom on sale, double points too. I’m sure they have more at the Michigan Avenue store.”

 

“Your story was enjoyable.”

“Well, you know, gee, I just keep getting in these crazy situations.”

My mother always told me to just say, “thank you,” and move on when someone says something nice about you. Instead, I say, “thank you,” and run on and on and on.

The real problem with just saying no might be related to my habit of initially responding with a yes to any question, offer or idea. This then leads me to behave like an appellate court, and reverse my lower court decision, replacing a yea with a nay. And like any good court, I must issue an opinion documenting the whys, wherefores and whatevers of my decision.

Aha! Perhaps the next step in becoming comfortable with the no word is to learn how to say, “Let me think about it,” or “maybe”, or “sounds wonderful however.”  If I’m not justifying a change of mind maybe I won’t feel the need to justify at all.  Maybe, just maybe.

Lists. Choices. Decisions. Oh My!

I  am making a list and making it more than once. Maybe more times than that. In fact I think I’ll split the one list into two or three lists because the decision facing me is bigger than one list can handle.  I’m making these lists to help me answer the question: which way do I go?

“Asking the right question is half the answer.” Aristotle said. So perhaps this isn’t the only way to pose the question. And if one believes the adage, “there is more than one way to skin a cat,” there may be more than one right answer.

Therefore, I’m making multiple lists to help me answer this question: Given the choices presented to me, the opportunities unexplored but in my sight, the options that are still partially formed dreams, and my talents, desires and needs – how do I do “what’s next?”

Bottom line: I’ve been working on my reinvention from a corporate advertising executive to a writer/essayist/storyteller/multi-media person of words for several years. After my one and only layoff I took a year off from looking for jobs because it was pre-recession and the seemed right to take a break, to assess where I had been and make some adjustments for where I was going. Assuming I would live into my 100s I had another half-life to live and I wanted to live it purposefully. Even with that faulty assumption, I wanted to live more in-line with personal objectives.

Post-recession I half-heartedly looked for corporate jobs and non-profit opportunities. Nothing I found made my heart pitter-patter. More often my gut clenched when I read the job description and envisioned the lifestyle that accompanied it.  So I took a part-time job teaching graduate school, a couple consulting jobs and I went back to school. I love school. It has always been a good default for me when I’m not sure what to do.

After receiving a certificate in creative non-fiction I decided to focus on being a writer. One writes to be a writer. But to be a writer that is read and shared takes a lot more than just writing.

I had moonlighted as a writer while working a full-time job in the last century. That makes it sound so long ago, and while that’s true, it feels like just yesterday when the sight of my column in the Sunday paper or the sound of my voice on the public radio station made me fall in love with my creativity each and every time. Not fall in love with me, but with an essence of me that loved being out in the open – fully voiced, fully exercised, and eager for more. I felt alive like I hadn’t felt doing research on salad dressing or writing creative briefs for air freshener.

So I made a deal with an angel and stopped looking for corporate jobs, resolved myself to working for less than waitress wages while teaching at a premiere college because it gave me prestige, validation, a business card and something to talk about at cocktail parties. Nothing shuts down a conversation more than when you tell someone you’re a writer and the only recent evidence you have of this self-claimed title is a blog or an unpublished essay, or file of essays.

Then I set about my reinvention, which lasted well over a year and a half. Probably half of the time was spent learning how to navigate the day-to-day-ness of my totally self-structured, non-corporate life and handling some unexpected speed bumps –who knew that the little country of Liechtenstein would play a large role in my reinvention. I also needed to bring Husband on my journey. This isn’t so easy when Husband is a lawyer – a litigator. Nebulous, finding-your-self and selling your-self journeys don’t fit so easy into an evidence box.

I’m not making excuses for not feeling reinvented yet or ready to be released on my own recognizance as a newly reinvented woman cum writer/media person. I did the assignments – I’m a good Catholic girl, after all – and I attended all the calls, except for the time I was in Liechtenstein. I bought almost all the books, read parts of almost all of them, and all of a couple. The material came fast and furiously – vision boards and cascading goals, the prefrontal cortex and the gratitude journal, false beliefs and negative self talk, the ego and the heart. Who’s talking to whom, who’s taking the lead?

I walked the path each month during the call and fell off the path between calls. Got turned around and retraced parts of the path. Sometimes I just decided to run and catch up with my accountability gang because I just didn’t want to be alone. So even though I don’t feel ready to receive my reinvention certificate today, because 1) I don’t believe I’ve learned all the material, 2) I definitely don’t know how to apply all the material and 3) I believe that I will always be reinventing myself – I must leave this formal reinvention stage of my life.

I leave wistfully and a bit anxiously because I find myself in a state similar to when started: facing opportunities in a new world – a world of writing and media  – and a choice to go back to an old world – corporate marketing. The new world is much more defined than when I started and that is good. There has been movement, successes and a great big wild ride into writing a book that needs to be ridden some more.  The corporate marketing job, which found me since I wasn’t looking for a job as promised in my deal with the angel, is interestingly different than the one I left. It lacks many of the loathing characteristics that made it easy to turn my back on corporate life.

However, I have steeped myself in the creative expression of my life and exploration of the world. I know I do not want and therefore will not forsake my dream and passion of expressing myself through writing, of connecting with other women through words, of feeling alive by seeing my words in print or hearing my words spoken. I won’t do this because 1) I believe my talent lies in connection through communication and I can make a difference that way and 2) I won’t disappoint myself by walking away.  Goodness, I have a book proposal waiting for an agent. Life’s Too Short –And So Am I will be written!

All this means that I need analyze to what the corporate opportunity can bring to my table to make the feast better, not just fatter.  So it’s time to go back to my lists, which I will check more than once in collaboration with my best collaborators, much like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me, this way is a very nice way.
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk.
Scarecrow: [points other way] It’s pleasant down that way, too.
Dorothy: That’s funny. Wasn’t he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: [points both ways] Of course, some people do go both ways.

Wizard of Oz, 1939

There’s nothing that wearing a pair of red shoes can’t solve.

I’m up earlier than normal. But I read the papers for longer than usual. Time saved on hair and makeup is lost in a wardrobe consideration kerfuffle.

Most emails that populate my inbox by 7AM can be deleted without opening. The usual collection of newsletters I thought I wanted and can’t unsubscribe to because I might miss something, the LinkedIn group notices, and spam asking for money to be wired immediately or offering easy and cheap access to a better life through drugs.

An unexpected email causes me to hover over the delete button and start rethinking my day. My day that was so carefully planned out last night: writing group, committee meeting, tax advisor, two errands and home to a list waiting for me on my desk of calls to make and things to do.

I’ve been invited to attend a meeting at WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station, with a media innovation class that I am helping out. This is a meeting where I can meet everyone at WBEZ I could want to meet. I start to reorder my day in my head.

“You can’t do that. You can’t cancel on your committee meeting, where you are a co-chair, at the last minute,” the good girl angel says on my right shoulder. She’s peeping out behind my silver earring, reminding me of my obligations.

“Oh yes you can,” says the other character – neither angel nor devil, an ingénue perhaps – jumping up and down on my left shoulder. “Seize the day. This is an opportunity waiting to be lost. You know you want it.”

Be quiet. I’ll figure it out.  But first I need to find my car keys. I hate to cancel commitments. I find my keys. Is this opportunity knocking or a detour blocking. My car is dead. What do I tell my committee? Why not the truth?

I drive downtown in Husband’s car wondering how its keyless start option works with a valet.  Stuck behind a concrete truck I negotiate how I can leave the committee meeting early to arrive at WBEZ just a bit late.

If I go to WBEZ what if anything would I say to the people I might meet?  Darn, I wish I had my elevator speech down.

Lake Shore Drive is a dead stop. How can I be responsible while responding to unforeseen opportunities, responsibly? Flexibility is the key to managing life’s twists and turns. Go with the flow, even if it isn’t flowing.

Why does it seem that I always leave early to arrive late? And does it even really matter, if in the end, I am wholly present and honest wherever I am?

 

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