Growing up, I suffered from crippling low self-esteem.
It dictated and controlled every aspect of my life, from how I thought about myself to the way I thought about and reacted to everyday situations. My thought processing was severely warped and irrational, subsequently leading up to my developing anxiety.
As a teenager I vividly remember sitting in a tight office space opposite my NHS therapist Melvin. He would very patiently explain to me that it is okay to put my hands up in class when wanting to answer a question, and would write down on a piece of paper all the negative feelings that would go through my mind when my teacher would call me out; in order for me to grasp a clear imagery of how incoherent those perceptions were.
Melvin was short, bald and white. He was a kind and soft spoken man who reminded me very much of an old wise wizard. Sometimes, his trainee would sit in with us or conduct the sessions herself. I really appreciated her presence for as a black woman herself, I felt significantly more at ease when it came to opening up to her.
Low-self esteem can lead to self-destructive decisions such as tolerating mistreatments or harming ourselves (Eating disorders, substance and alcohol misuse, toxic friendships/relationships, promiscuity, cosmetic surgery, procrastination… etc).
It can also lead to harming others in an effort to either make them love us or numb us to the pain of our own worthlessness. If left unchecked, low self-esteem symptoms can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, sometimes with tragic results.
Self-esteem encapsulates how we value and perceive ourselves.
Self-esteem can be measured almost perfectly by measuring someone’s extroversion and subtracting from that their negative emotionality or neuroticism. It is a combination of the big 5 personality traits:
People who are extroverted and are low on neuroticism, usually score high on scales of self-esteem.
Self-esteem isn’t just about how you feel about yourself.
It is about how you act effectively within the world, and how you are trained to do so.
As one journeys through adulthood, it becomes imperative to have efficient negotiation skills in order to get ahead in life. Typically this can only be achieved with a sound level of self-esteem.
Strong negotiation skills can be the difference between a beneficial compromise and a loss.
Negotiation is a practical issue. You have to figure out what you want and bargain for it from a position of authority.
- You do not have authority unless you know what you’re talking about.
- You cannot negotiate with someone unless you have mastered the ability to say “no”.
- You can’t confidently say “no” unless you have set yourself up with alternatives.
Using my very own recent experience: If you go to your boss and negotiate for a raise; you need to have the sort of CV that enables you to be able to find another job. You need to have your CV prepared, and you need to also have looked for another job and be confident in your ability to attain another one.
Only then, will you be able to go in for the negotiation and assertively say to your boss: “I’m not as productive as I could be at my current level of remuneration, it’s not reflective of what I’m able to do therefore I want a raise… these are the advantages of doing so …”
Your boss is going to know by the way you hold yourself while you’re having the discussion, whether you are somebody with viable options or not.
Negotiating is synonymous to preparing yourself for a battle. You can’t be weak when preparing yourself for a battle because if your boss says “No I’m not going to give you a raise”.. which is exactly what your boss is likely to say, you need to be able to say: “Okay then, as a result there will be consequences which you will not like”.
Knowing when to walk away
In this scenario, that would be your departure and you taking your talents elsewhere. If your boss doesn’t care, then you’re either in the wrong business, or you did not have any talents to begin with.
So in order to negotiate effectively (which is often a hard task for people who are agreeable as they tend to be more conflict-averse) – You have to put yourself in a position where you can push back as fast as you are going to be pushed on.
That means you have to open up the space of available options because otherwise when the other party says “no” – That’s it, you’re done and you lose.
Negotiation is a set of skills and it is easier for some people than it is for others. Always remember that negotiation should be approached not as a competition, but as a compromise in which everyone leaves satisfied.
There is a high correlation between positive self-esteem and the ability to persuade. If someone appears insecure, he or she may be more susceptible to being persuaded rather than doing the persuasion.
What is your experience of (low/high) self-esteem and negotiation?
Do you have any tips?