Turn Fear into Hope for More Resilient and Effective Negotiation

We’ve been living in the shadow of COVID-19 for two years. What began as temporary changes to our everyday routines, like avoiding crowds and wearing masks, have become part of our life stories.

Each of us has a COVID story. That story is the narrative about our lockdown experience, missing important milestones in the lives of family and friends, losing loved ones too soon, and living in fear of the unknown.


But now, as spring is about to burst open, we are coming out of the shadows. We’re going out again. We’re leaving for much overdue vacations. We’re hugging our loved ones just a little tighter, resolute in the knowledge of what could have been.


And that’s just what’s been going on in our personal lives. For most people, the pandemic turned the traditional model of what work looks like upside down and changed the trajectory of many individuals’ careers.


More than 18 million workers across the U.S. were laid off in April 2020. Twenty percent of those employees never went back to the jobs they left. Why?


Many people found they could have better work-life balance in another career. Others wanted higher pay or better work culture. Whatever the reason for the permanent departure was, most of them had one thing in common.


In the face of losing their jobs and living through an unprecedented pandemic, they transformed their fear of an uncertain future into hope.


The journey to hope

If we haven’t already, we should each be trying to take that journey to hope, which was quite a challenge during the darkest days of the pandemic. Those who were able to change their perspective and resiliently pursue hope, emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in a better, more resolute place.


Hope that we’ll get to go where we want to go. Hope that we’ll never be separated from friends and family again. Hope that we can build a life that includes a sustainable career doing something we’re genuinely passionate about.


But hope doesn’t fall from the sky. For those who did reach a place of hope, the journey to turn the fear of COVID-19 and its consequences into hope for the future took months, if not the entire last two years.


Use persistence and resilience to navigate fear

For many, the pandemic was one of the scariest, most uncertain times in their lives. So how on earth were those who found hope able to turn fearfulness into the kind of optimism that creates lasting life change? How did they navigate fear?


Because on the journey to hope, you have to lean into perspective and resilience to get through.


When challenges arise, many become afraid. Fear is a natural, visceral response we all have. But when you successfully navigate through the fear, you can experience a change in perspective. You can see your circumstances through a new lens that includes pursuing a new future with perseverance.


So many of the world’s great innovators started from a place of fear. Walt Disney, Arianna Huffington, and Oprah Winfrey all experienced monumental failure early in their careers. And setbacks are undeniably scary.


People were afraid of what they were doing. The constant rejection made these innovators fear they’d never be successful. But in the end, they were. How?


All of them used the same method. Rather than fearing failure, they let it fuel them. They had to be resilient and resistant to difficulty, using every challenge that came their way as a chance to change their perspective and pivot to a new reality.


This takes grit and determination. Which, incidentally, aren’t characteristics often associated with hopefulness. But turning fear into hope is impossible without understanding perspective and resilience.


All of this is also important in negotiation.


Bringing persistence and resilience to the bargaining table

Most people start the negotiation process with some form of fear. They might be afraid of their opponent, an unfavorable outcome, or even themselves.


We let our stories keep us from living an authentic life all too often. We allow injustices to lower our expectations. We let our mistakes define our future. We allow past abuse to devalue our self-worth. We let rejections diminish our contributions.


But what’s really going on here? We’re afraid of the truth.


The truth is that you deserve to live an authentic life. Your past does not define you. You are worthy of your dreams. You should not fear who you really are.


When you reject these personal fears, change your perspective, and negotiate with resilience, you’ll be able to reasonably hope for a favorable outcome.


What good is a negotiator who is incapable of hope? Every time you enter a bargain, you should hope for the best possible outcome. But when you start with fear, getting to a place of hope is complicated.


Overcoming your fears in negotiation is a matter of looking at situations differently and remaining steadfast throughout the bargain. This isn't easy. It takes years of practice, practical experience, and determination to do well. But putting effort into a hope-filled negotiation is well worth the effort.


When you do, you accept every part of your story, bring your authentic self to the bargaining table, and negotiate with an optimistic confidence that’s easy to see.


Alter your perspective to see that hope is always possible.