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Imposter Syndrome and Its Impact on Negotiation– A Guide for Negotiators

Keith Stacey
Imposter Syndrome And Its Impact On Negotiation Skills A Guide For Negotiators

Harriet Dyer wrote the script for the romantic comedy Colin from Accounts as a private, personal diversion during the pandemic. She almost never shared it with anyone, but then she dragged it out of a drawer one day to explain a dramatic technique to a colleague. That colleague saw the script's potential, and the rest is history. As we know, the series has been an international success. 


This is a great example of imposter syndrome, the mistaken belief that we are not good enough, talented enough, to reasonably expect success for our efforts. 


The other side of imposter syndrome is where people overestimate their abilities and are blissfully unaware of their own inadequacies. They blame every setback or misfortune on malign forces beyond their control. 


Employers (bosses) often fall into this trap, as they are flattered and people tend to boost their egos. But that's for another blog. 


In the immortal words of Thomas Gray, "Full many a gem of purest ray serene, The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear.


The curse of the syndrome is that talent is not recognised, and our world is poorer for it. 


Negotiators often rate their own ability as below average, and this lack of confidence, when combined with self-defeating behaviours, becomes a crippling disadvantage. 


Here are some of the self-defeating behaviours that negotiators with imposter syndrome suffer from: 


  • Avoiding opportunities to negotiate. They would rather take a secondary task in negotiations or delegate negotiating to others. 
  • Being overly cautious and reluctant to share information. They may even allow others to set the agenda and make proposals for them. 
  • Perceiving the other party as more skilled, experienced, and powerful. This can lead to them being too passive and not standing up for themselves. 
  • Catastrophizing when things don't go according to plan. They may give up easily or make rash decisions. 


If you see any of these behaviours in yourself, don't despair! There are things you can do to overcome imposter syndrome, enhance your negotiation skills and become a more confident negotiator.


Here are a few tips: 


  • Invest in training to improve your negotiation skills. This will help you understand the process and develop the confidence to negotiate effectively. 
  • View every negotiation as an opportunity to learn and grow. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. The more you negotiate, the better your negotiation skills will become. 
  • Debrief after each negotiation, whether it was successful or not. This will help you identify what went well and what you can improve on next time. 


With a little practice and perseverance, you can overcome imposter syndrome and become a skilled and confident negotiator. 


So go out there and negotiate! The world is waiting for your talents. 


P.S. If you're still struggling with imposter syndrome and want to boost your negotiation skills, don't hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available, such as books, articles, and online courses. You can also talk to a therapist or counsellor who specialises in imposter syndrome. 


Happy negotiating! 

Keith Stacey
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