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How to Bring Yourself in Negotiations—and in Life

With the recent paperback release of Bring Yourself, I’ve been thinking about some of the themes and how they’re holding up today—more than two years after the original publish date.

Negotiation is something many do their best to avoid, along with public speaking, hard conversations, or being put on public display in any forum.

Are you really afraid of these things? We look at our fears one-dimensionally, but when you consider the true motivation behind them, you realize there’s something else at play. Are you actually afraid of speaking in public, or is it really the thought of sounding foolish? Are you concerned about standing up in front of a group of people, or are you worried you’ll be judged?

Look at fear this way, and the truth comes out. Even though you may not enjoy public speaking or being called out from a group, the real issue is how others perceive you. You’re afraid of revealing who you really are to the world because there’s nothing more vulnerable than allowing your authentic self to be seen.

Fear is part of being human, and protecting yourself from what you’re afraid of is a natural response. But these feelings can have damaging side effects if they go unchecked.

Allow authenticity to banish fear

Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He was right. Feeling afraid can hold you back in negotiation and prevent you from letting the world see you as you are.

Some people live highly curated lives—beyond the occasional use of filters and creative cropping on Instagram. Curated photos are beautiful, but a curated life? I’m not so sure.

You dishonor your authentic self when you hide behind an edited version of who you are. But when you use your words and actions to advocate for yourself and what you want, you can unlock a world of possibilities.

Being real is the antidote. Come to the table as your true self, and you have the potential to negotiate with confidence. You know what you want. You know what motivates you. You know what you want to walk away with.

Living in authenticity means fearlessly embracing yourself. Show up for yourself and others without reservation. Share your story. Speak your truth.

Beware the bull

Sometimes, this approach to life is confused with aggressiveness. Shedding your fear doesn’t mean acting out. Fearlessness isn’t a free pass to yell out your truth, whether appropriate or not, and run through other people’s lives like a bull in a china shop. Having the audacity to scream and flail until you get your way exposes a lack of emotional intelligence, not bravery, and usually doesn’t prove successful, anyway.

From the outside, the perception might be that the bull in the china shop wins the negotiation. Don’t get distracted by the noise and chaos. When the bull leaves, everything is broken, and no one is happy. That’s neither a successful shopping trip nor a successful negotiation. And don’t forget—you’ll have to pay for what you broke!

Far too many people have been encouraged to take on these aggressive personas, which don’t align with their true self, in negotiations. They believe challenges can only be overcome when they adopt a persona that is scarier than the obstacle they want to vanquish.

While taking on a big, confrontational attitude honors many people’s authentic self, this approach isn’t for everyone. You might think you need to act a certain way to achieve a desired outcome, but the best result is always achieved when you bring yourself and leave the bull at home.

The fine line between authenticity and curation

Authenticity is one of the keys to a successful negotiation. But Bringing Yourself only works if you have boundaries.

Now more than ever, we feel pressured to overshare—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

A big part of living without fear is valuing yourself enough to create boundaries about what you want to share and with whom. Of course, you’re under no obligation to fully expose yourself.

Some people perceive boundaries as being disingenuous. They falsely believe that limiting what you share to protect yourself conceals the truth. I think the opposite is true.

When you value who you are, you want to protect your truth. You know your worth and are willing to make hard choices to honor your value. In a world enticing us to bare it all, what could be more fearless

You are the most powerful tool you can bring to the negotiation table. There’s no way to Bring Yourself without being honest about who you really are. Show up with authenticity, not just in negotiations but in life, and watch the magic happen.


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