ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Edward, a 59-year-old insurance executive, came to see me with two tremendous problems: of greatest immediacy, he was being pushed out of his job by an acerbic, dishonest boss who wanted to give Edward’s job to one of the boss’s buddies from a different insurance company. Day in and day out, Edward’s boss would set him up to fail, and then publicly humiliate him for it. Edward was becoming a nervous wreck. At home, though, Edward faced a problem of even greater magnitude: his wife was battling both cancer and depression. The weight on Edward’s shoulders was crushing. And he felt it, too; increasingly he couldn’t sleep or eat.
In counseling Edward about how to handle negotiations with his boss, I had to spend a considerable amount of time and energy on, first, keeping him afloat. He didn’t want to deal with the problem, and merely going in to the office each morning was more and more difficult. In fact, he came to the point when he said, “I just can’t do it any more.”
Each morning for some two weeks, I reminded Edward of how important it was, to his wife, that he pick up the pieces, and re-assemble his career. How important it was, to his wife, that he not be on the street looking for work. How important it was, to his wife, that he fight the debilitating effects of his boss’s daily ranting, raving and humiliation. How important it was, to his wife, that he not quit. Little by little, it hit him: this was very important, to his wife, for whom he cared more than anything in the world.
Edward came to see that he had relatively little to lose, and quite a lot to gain. With a new sense of purpose, and consequent determination that he hadn’t exhibited to his boss before, he requested a meeting to resolve the problem by sending a memo about the problem, and its harm to the company, to the HR Director, with a “cc” to the CEO and Board Chairman. His memo described how he was being treated, why it posed significant harm to the company’s most precious interests: its revenues, customer relations, and public reputation. In doing so, he “spoke truth to power” publicly. He also suggested a reasonable solution to the problem: his transfer to a better position. That’s just what happened, and it rejuvenated his career, his mind, and his energy level.
Edward “came back,” and not only survived in his position, but seemed to have taught his boss that he was not someone who could be badgered into submission or bludgeoned into resigning. A newfound respect, and a newfound strength, had developed, all from the re-kindling of a newfound purpose.
THE LESSON TO LEARN: Did you know that you have the strength to lift up a car with one hand? Sure you do . . . if a loved one was caught underneath. As in that example, sufficiently motivated people are capable of accomplishing much, much more than they’d ever imagine. This “lifting a car” example illustrates a point students of human motivation call “The Power of Purpose.” It is a very powerful secret for those who are good at Negotiating for Themselves at Work.
For most of us, it’s hard to ask for things for ourselves. Our family upbringing and later socialization makes us feel selfish, self-centered or greedy when doing so. We also fear being turned down when making requests, a form of rejection. So, often we just don’t ask. At work, this is what often happens to those who desire – and deserve – raises, better bonuses and promotions.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: The next time you’re considering asking for better compensation, better benefits or conditions, or a better position, at work, try putting a picture of loved ones in your pocket or pocketbook – children, your spouse or life partner, parents, even pets – shortly before you make your request, and look at it or touch it to remind you of your true “purpose.” When meeting with your boss, keep it somewhere close to you, so you might be able to subtly touch it. It will “psych you up.” It will empower you immeasurably.It will do so by reminding you of your greater “purpose,” to provide for, protect and defend your loved ones. It will remind you how expensive things are, including college tuition, retirement, and medical care. For yourself, you might not be assertive or aggressive, but for your loved ones, well, you’d probably be willing to do near anything for them. This extra measure of boldness will likely make a measurable difference in your approach, your request, your presentation, and your perseverance.
Without your boss knowing it, touching that picture during discussions will give you a determination, a resolve and a “Power of Purpose” like you’ve never experienced – and more importantly, never projected – before. And as a result, more likely than not, you will get a “yes” response to your request because a “yes” response is what you command, with your new-found “Power of Purpose” in your pocket.
Take a moment to look over our Sklover Video on Demand “Can I Really Negotiate with My Boss?” by [clicking here].
P.S.: Help Others While You Help Yourself! Become a SkloverWorkingWisdom™ Sales Affiliate –encourage others to take advantage of our Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Agreements. Earn a substantial commission. Just [click here.]