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Pearls of Life

(26) Pearls of Life

How To Be More Confident - A Step-by-Step Process for Becoming Truly Confident

Building Self-Confidence - Preparing Yourself for Success!

PL26

Rehearse It

I’m guessing if you’re reading these texts that you may not be entirely comfortable with asking for important things. If you’ve followed all the guidelines in these texts, you’ve given yourself the best possible chance-you’ve persuaded the other person they’d like to say yes, and you’ve made it as easy as possible for them. All you need now is a bit more confidence.

And confidence comes from knowing exactly what you’re doing. So before you actually meet up, rehearse and rehearse and rehearse what you’re going to say. Do it in front of a mirror, or with a friend if you can. Go over it until you really feel confident of what you’re saying, and have the right phrases or figures on the tip of your tongue.

You’re not trying to script this word for word. That could sound stilted, which would make you feel uncomfortable. You might script the odd few words but otherwise it’s the gist you’re clear about, and the actual words can come naturally. We need to make sure that even if you’re nervous or stressed or anxious or under pressure, you don’t miss out anything important that could make a difference to the other person’s final answer. So rehearse until you know that you can 

  • Remember everything you want to say, even under pressure.
  • Recall your three key points.
  • Recall specific phrases that you think will help make your case.
  • Remember any vital facts and figures you may need.

Look, this is the moment you’ve been working toward for days, weeks, maybe months. You can’t afford to blow it all by screwing up your lines when you get there.

Rehearse Their Answer

Right, you’ve rehearsed your lines, but what about theirs? What are they going to say? And actually, how can you have rehearsed all your lines without knowing how they’ll react? Well you haven’t, of course. You’ve rehearsed your opening gambit-you’ve practiced how to put your case across. But after they respond you’ll be clueless. You’ve no idea what they’re going to say, so you’ll be completely unprepared. If this is something big, they’re hardly likely to say yes right away, are they?

They’ll want to talk about it, ask questions, suggest alternatives, I don’t know-anything might happen. Well, not quite. It’s true that you don’t know exactly what they’ll say, but you do have a pretty good idea of the options. After all, you’ve already thought through why they might say no, and what would help them to say yes. So if they don’t give you a yes, they’re almost certainly going to come up with one of the objections you’ve already considered.

So you can actually prepare for this, too, by rehearsing the counter-arguments you’ve prepared to their objections, until you’re as solid on those as you are on your initial request. By the time you’ve thought through all the options, you’ll find you’ve rehearsed their lines for them as well as your own. How thoughtful of you.

Don’t Go on About It

So you’ve finally made it to the all-important meeting. You’re sitting across from your boss-or whoever-and you’re actually asking for what you want. You’re making a clear case, putting across your three key points, and showing him why he wants to say yes.

When you get to the end of your rehearsed spiel, you pause. They’re thinking about it. They don’t react at once. So you take advantage of the pause to add another point, and then another, and another… Stop! Rewind! No, no, no-once you’ve said everything that needs to be said, shut up. Wait for them to speak next. The onus is on them, so if he doesn’t feel uncomfortable, you shouldn’t. The thing is, when you start speaking again the very least you do is interrupt their train of thought when they should be thinking about whether they can say yes to you. That’s bad enough. But you could damage your case even further. Apart from irritating them (and we want them in a good mood, remember), you could confuse them with extraneous information. You’ve spent a lot of time making sure you are being clear and succinct, so don’t risk becoming muddled and lengthy after all.

You might even put your foot in it inadvertently: “...and it won’t jeopardize the TMK contract either.” Ah, the TMK contract. The boss had forgotten about that. Now you mention it; they’re not so sure it won’t jeopardize it. Hmmm. Maybe it’s not such a good idea after all…. You see? If you don’t open your mouth, you can’t put your foot in it. Right, that’ll do. I won’t go on about it.

Get the Essentials on Paper

You’ve asked your boss, or the committee chairman, or the bank manager, a big question. They’re going to have to think about it. Maybe talk it over with other people, or even get approval from someone more senior. Of course you won’t be there when that happens.

So how are you going to make sure they do justice to your request? What if they forget the salient points? Fail to quote those crucial statistics that really clinch the argument? Get the baseline figures wrong? What indeed?

There’s a simple way around this. You just need to take a written summary to the meeting with you and hand it over. Keep it to less than a page, laid out well with headings, bullet points, and lots of space. You know, so it looks easy to read quickly or get the key points from just by scanning. You’re supposed to make this easy for them, remember. No one’s going to bother to read a full sheet of close-typed text.

Think how reassuring that is. Whoever they talk to, or whenever they decide to think about their decision, you can be confident that they have all the facts and arguments they could need at hand, and you know they’re accurate because you supplied them yourself.

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(27) Pearls of Life

 PL271

Have a Bottom Line

 Of course, after you’ve asked you may not get a straight answer. You may get a conditional one. In other words you’ll have to negotiate. And when you’ve finished negotiating, you’ll need to come away with something worth having.

Which is what, precisely? You have to know the answer to this question, because otherwise you may find you’ve agreed to something that isn’t actually any use to you. Before you start, you have to know what is the least you’ll settle for. Whether you’re buying a house, getting a pay raise, asking for a loan, or getting the builders in, if you don’t know this before you start, you’re in trouble.

And often it’s not straightforward. Sometimes these things are a straight yes and no thing-how much are you prepared to pay for this car, for example-but in many cases there are lots of variables. You might settle for a smaller pay raise if there’s a promise of a further raise next year. Depending on how much. And when next year. And if there are other perks to go with it. See? All these things can interrelate. If the other person says maybe instead of yes, you have to be ready to discuss these things, knowing that you won’t fall into the trap of negotiating a deal that isn’t worth it because you’ve got your bottom line fixed in your mind.

Ask for More Than You Want

Some people will try to beat you down-you know they will. Remember the scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian where Brian is frantically trying to buy something from a market stall before his pursuers catch up with him. He tries to hand over the money, and the stallholder refuses to deal with him unless he haggles over the price. Sometimes there’s a good reason to negotiate you down, but a lot of people won’t even need a reason. So you start by asking for more than you want. Then, when they negotiate you down, you still end up where you privately hoped to be. Other people may be alarmed at the scale of what you’re asking. When you drop what you’re asking for they’ll appreciate the concession and the final figure won’t be so daunting. Suppose you want your sister to look after your children two days a week after school for an hour, until you get back from work. Ask her if she could manage three days. While she’s thinking about it, let her know you can see this is a lot to cope with-maybe she could just do two days? By now, two days is looking far more manageable once she’s contemplated three, and she’s more likely to feel it’s a reasonable request.

I’m not asking you to be manipulative, that’s never a good approach. I’m assuming here that three days would be even better, but you can see that two is as much as you can reasonably ask. Don’t ask for more than you’d accept-just for more than you expect or aim to get.

Don’t Make Empty Threats

Or indeed any threats. That’s not nice. But for your own sake don’t say, imply, or threaten that if the other person doesn’t do what you want you’ll quit your job, or never help them again, or not be their friend, or never speak to them in the playground—well, that’s how childish it is. Not only that, it’s counter-productive.

For one thing they may call your bluff. You’re going to feel pretty aggrieved if your boss says “fair enough then, you’ll have to find another job.” Now you’ve either got to do so, or lose face by staying anyway. And not only that-if you stay your boss now knows they can say no to you with impunity. Threats cause bad feeling, and the other person is far more likely to say no to you next time if she is annoyed at being threatened this time. Your neighbor certainly isn’t going to babysit for you ever again. Your mother won’t reconsider her decision about the house move. And all those other things you might need them for in the future…you’ve blown it now. Suppose the threat isn’t empty? Suppose you really will leave your job if your manager won’t give you a rise? Don’t tell them-it will sound like blackmail however you play it. Just do it. When they say no, go and get another job, and when you hand in your notice you can explain-in regretful but polite terms-that you have had to take a job with better prospects. If losing you was ever going to change their mind, they’ll make you an offer to get you to stay. If they don’t, the threat wouldn’t have worked (and wouldn’t have helped your references either).

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(28) Pearls of Life

 DON'T GIVE UP

Dont-give-up

Think About It

The negotiations have gone kind of OK. They haven’t agreed to everything, but they have proposed a compromise.

They’ll lend you half the money; they’ll give you a smaller pay raise than you wanted but they’ll also give you other perks; they’ll look after the kids every other week; they won’t date you but they’ll spend more time with you; they’ll accept your offer but they won’t do the repairs on the roof.

Hmmm. Is it worth it?

That could be hard to say. In which case, don’t say it.

Don’t feel rushed into making a decision, even if the another person is trying to pressure you.

Listen, this is important.

You can’t spend all that time planning and then just blurt out a decision that is frankly no more than a guess. What if it turns out to be the wrong answer?

You always have the right to say, “That’s an interesting thought - proposal - idea –recommendation - offer.

I’d like to think about it.”

Then ask them when they want a response by, or make a suggestion yourself.

Now you have time not only to think but also if necessary to collect more information to help you decide. Get a more accurate figure on the roofing costs, see if your sister could babysit on the alternating weeks, find out if there’s any way to trim the budget further, analyse the savings you’ll gain from working at home or having a company car.

After you have all the facts in front of you, then you can go back with a clear decision that you know is the right one.

Put the Decision in Writing

 Great! They said yes! Congratulations.

Now, let’s just keep calm and think about this for a moment.

Did they say yes unreservedly, or were there conditions?

Did they agree to the timing?

Which one of you was going to double-check it with Matt?

Will it still be OK for you to go on vacation in March?

And if you’re sure you know all those answers, are you also sure that they do? And that you’ll both still remember the same version the week after next?

No, you can’t be.

Unless, of course, you write it down.

If there’s a lot of detail to cover, you need to take a notebook into the meeting with you. And, whether you’ve done that, if there’s the slightest risk they could change their mind, or try to alter the conditions or misremember the minutiae, you need to put it all down in writing afterwards.

If it’s a business meeting of some kind, this will seem so normal you can just write it down with a covering note to say it seemed wise to put it down in writing.

If that seems too formal you can still drop your neighbour a note, or your mother an email, to say, “Thanks so much for agreeing to look after the house while we’re away.

Here are the dates again for you, and it’s such a relief to know the garden will be looked after too while we’re gone.”

There. Now if mum doesn’t remember agreeing to weed the garden she can say so.

Be Ready to Be Decisive

That’s what the most successful people do.

They work out what went wrong this time, and they get cracking on the next challenge. Sometimes that can entail big decisions, and you have to be prepared for that.

Maybe you just won’t find a house that fits your requirements, and you have to decide what you’ll compromise on.

Perhaps your boss is never going to promote you and you need to look for another job. Maybe not, but you have to face up to the decision.

This is where the people who wait for answers to fall into their laps go wrong, and start to look unlucky.

While the go-getters get going on Plan B and, sooner or later, get what they want without the need for luck.

So go back to the beginning (don’t worry, a lot of the legwork’s already done) and analyse what you need to do differently and whether that will entail making big changes. If it does, consider them carefully - don’t hand in your notice in a fit of anger -and be prepared to try again or to be decisive about heading in another direction.

Don’t Give Up

Maybe you’re not willing to compromise, or you don’t see the need.

Maybe the answer isn’t to quit the job, or the marriage, or the house move, or enjoy being overweight.

Maybe you still wanted what you started out wanting, and those things aren’t the answer.

OK, then stick with Plan A.

Quite right - sometimes big change isn’t the answer.

Sometimes you just need to keep at it.

I lost count of the number of times I tried unsuccessfully to give up smoking. But I did it in the end.

What if I’d given up trying to give up?

Apart from the irony of it, I’d still be smoking now.

The fact I do not show that persistence isn’t futile.

Maybe you didn’t get the promotion this time. But now that another candidate has moved on up, maybe you’ll be the one next time - and meantime you can work on making yourself an even more promising applicant.

So no one would look after the kids while you went to Italian classes?

They’ll be starting a new course soon and maybe it will be on a better night.

Or you’ll find a parent at the school who’s happy to do a babysitting swap with you every week. Or your partner will get home early on a Thursday.

So don’t quit.

Make challenging but realistic plans and work at making them happen. And whatever you do, don’t rely on luck. In any case, if you’re doing it properly, you won’t need it.

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