Texas Conference for Women: Am I the Problem?

Today’s blog post by Amber Fogarty is the fourth in our series about the 2013 Texas Conference for Women. Make sure to check out the first, secondandthird blogs in the series. Come back next Tuesday to read the next blog in this series!

One of the sessions I attended at the Texas Conference for Women was called Winning from Within, and it gave me a lot to think about. Internationally renowned negotiation and conflict resolution pioneer Erica Ariel Fox offered a forward-thinking approach to leading and living by mastering the “negotiation within.” Fox says that the most important negotiations start from within ourselves, rather than with others.

As we learn how to negotiate, we are often taught to separate the people from the problem. Sound advice, right?

Here’s what Ms. Fox said that most resonated with me:

Separating the people from the problem doesn’t work if the people are the problem. It also doesn’t work if I am part of the problem.
Ms. Fox then asked us to ponder these questions:
What if I am the problem? What if I’m getting in my own way? Do I know how to negotiate with myself?
She reminded us that we each have many internal voices, which she referred to as inner negotiators. We hear, “I want,” “I think,” “I feel,” “I should do this or that,” etc. on a daily basis. There’s not just one voice. And unfortunately the voices often disagree.
Ms. Fox asserts that we each have our own Inner Executive Team that consists of:
Your Inner CEO – Creates possibilities: Sets strategic vision, gives direction.
Your Inner CFO – Clarifies perspectives: Analyzes data, manages risk.
Your Inner VP of HR – Cares about people: Feels emotions, manages relationships.
Your Inner COO – Catalyzes performance: Takes action, reaches goals.

We all have a tendency to focus on one or two members of our Inner Executive Team, but the other members are there, and sometimes they create confusion about how we should move forward. Which member of your Executive Team are you most inclined to listen to? Where is their inner conflict between the members of your own Executive Team?

My key takeaway: The next time I’m approaching a negotiation situation, I should ask myself honestly if I am part of the problem. Not in a negative, self-deprecating way, but in a candid, thoughtful way with an openness to what I need to learn and how I need to grow. Leaders are accountable. We recognize our own shortcomings and commit to learning from our mistakes. We recognize that truly remarkable leadership requires negotiating not just with others, but also with ourselves. 

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