How you frame the outcome of a negotiation can reveal a lot about your mindset--and the measures you use to judge success and failure. It's a good indication of your ability to turn challenging situations into ones that can benefit you. Resilient people recognize that failure can be a blessing in disguise.
Consider a colleague of mine, Eve, who recently found herself negotiating her position at an organization where she was only contracted for a year. She really cared about the mission and saw great potential for the organization and her professional growth.
At the end of the year, she engaged in a series of negotiations to determine next steps. While she thought she was being reasonable and understood the value of her contributions to the organization, her manager ultimately decided not to continue the contract.
Initially, Eve framed the whole experience a failure. But after reflecting on the negotiation process and demands made by her manager, she realized something. By agreeing to terms that were far from her ideal outcome, she would have only been compromising her professional goals and--to a degree--her values.
By holding steady to her principles, she avoided agreeing to terms that would have been unsustainable for her in the long run. Instead of viewing the situation as an utter failure, she was able focus on the benefits she'd reaped for the year she spent there.
Through this negotiation, Eve showed signs of resilience. You, too, can turn your perceived failures into growth opportunities by developing these four attributes of resilience:
1. Boost your self-esteem.
Know your worth and the value you bring. This involves developing a keener sense of self-awareness so you know your strengths and contributions. Others may not see your worth, so part of your responsibility during the negotiation is to demonstrate how you add value.
This knowledge gave Eve the confidence to voice what was negotiable for her and what was not, and to stick to it. Self-esteem keeps up from accepting less than what we deserve. Knowing where to draw the line in a negotiation is an important part of maintaining a healthy level of self-esteem.
Try writing in a journal to reflect on your experiences. Write about your contributions, how they benefited others and the organization, what you still need to learn, and what you want to accomplish.
In a negotiation, you need to listen for the other party's needs. Highlight how your contributions can meet their needs.
2. Maintain a positive attitude.
All negotiations may not work out the way you want. As long as you put your best effort forward, whatever is meant to be will be. There will be other opportunities coming your way and you need to be ready to receive them.
In Eve's case, she was prepared with plans B, C and D, in the event the negotiation did not go her way. She clearly understood her alternatives and did not go into the negotiation believing her entire future hinged on the outcome.
Trust the process. There are other opportunities out there for you. That'll help you maintain a positive attitude.
3. Practice emotional regulation.
Negotiations surface a range of emotions. You may take some comments personally and feel insulted that your contributions were not appreciated and valued the way you expected. Instead of getting worked up, put your energy into identifying the opportunities where your contributions will be appreciated, and learn to see dead-ends for what they are.
While Eve regretted she was unable to get her negotiating counterpart to stake her value, she did not let it stop her from seeking out alternative opportunities. You can give yourself permission to feel bad for a moment and then set a time limit--I give myself 20 minutes--to move on.
4. Keep an open mind.
Just like learning from your mistakes, you can learn from perceived failures by remaining open to feedback. By being open-minded, you might uncover nuggets of wisdom embedded in the message that someone with a closed mind might overlook. The blessing here is you get to determine where the synergy is and discard what is not a good fit.
Feedback is a reflection of both the person giving it and the person receiving it. Reflect on what you did or said that gave the other person a negative impression. Use it to modify your behavior for your next interaction.
Eve used what she'd learned over the course of the year to thrive in her next endeavor. She was able to identify that she built her network and that there were new colleagues with whom she looked forward to collaborating. You can do the same.
Whatever experience you might have, there is always something to be learned. Resilience is taking your "failures" with you, wherever you go, and learning from wherever you've been.