skip to main content
Called to Coach
Negotiating From a Place of Strength
Called to Coach

Negotiating From a Place of Strength

Webcast Details

  • What are some key insights about negotiating that leaders -- and all of us -- need to learn?
  • How can you move past your fears and self-doubt to become adept at negotiating?
  • What role can your strengths play in your negotiating, and how can you help others to improve their negotiating skills?

Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 11, Episode 18

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.


Coaches and leaders need to be good negotiators. Yet negotiation is really a skill that we all engage in every day. Yet many of us approach negotiating with fear and self-doubt. How can we move beyond these negative factors -- including not wanting others to take advantage of us -- to understand the value we bring to our negotiations, and how can we move toward a greater appreciation of the person with whom we're negotiating, whether that involves a new car, a salary package or just the division of responsibilities for a team project? How can our strengths hinder and help us -- and how does self-awareness lead us toward success in negotiating? Listen as author and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Susie Tomenchok shares the insights she has gained through years of using her strengths to hone her own negotiating skills.


I think everybody would agree that ... negotiation is a critical skill for executives and for leaders ... sometimes. But when you think about it as an umbrella skill set, it is so applicable to every day.

Susie Tomenchok, 6:48

When you sit back and think about your strengths, and you anticipate what your needs are, ... how will you aim those strengths in a way that's going to work best for you?

Susie Tomenchok, 19:54

And really, when we think about it, we're selling our value. And that value is a value to the other person. That's the win-win.

Susie Tomenchok, 41:56

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on June 23, 2023.

Jim Collison 0:20
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, and you don't see the chat room, there's a link to it right above me there. Click on that; join us in the chat. If you have questions after the fact, or if you're listening to this on the recorded version, you can always send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe to Called to Coach on your favorite podcast app or right, right down there on YouTube, so you never miss an episode. Susie Tomenchok is my guest. today. She's an entrepreneur, accomplished author and highly sought-after Executive Coach dedicated to empowering her clients to unleash their inner negotiators. I love that sentence. With a career spanning over 20 years in the telecommunications industry, Susie's expertise and experience are unparalleled. She has been a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach since 2017. And Susie, always great to be with you. Welcome to Called to Coach!

Susie Tomenchok 1:20
Oh, I'm thrilled to be here, Jim. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited!

Jim Collison 1:24
Yeah, good to have you. And I'm always excited when I get a guest that has a really good microphone. So thank you.

Susie Tomenchok 1:29
Thanks to you, I would say.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

Jim Collison 1:32
Thanks for, for doing that. Let's get to know you a little bit. Give us your elevator speech. When you meet somebody for the first time, what do you tell them about yourself?

Susie Tomenchok 1:41
Yeah, you know, I am, like, right in the space I'm supposed to be now. But the journey to get me here, I didn't, like, have a plan or a map. But I was a corporate executive and was really brought to the table to negotiate deals, big deals, expensive deals, because they involve satellites and connectivity and all this stuff. So by default, I was in rooms with really high-up people. And I think just that experience of just kind of like having to be on and, and learning the nuances of just building relationships is all it's about. I'm a mom of three who are now in their 20s. And also just seeing how important negotiation, just to go there right away, is in our everyday. So my journey was one of deep experience, because I just kind of would always throw myself into what I was doing, learn as much as I could, really get to know people, has brought me to be where I am today. And so -- I know that wasn't, like, a very succinct answer. But it's kind of my path.

Why Is Negotiating So Difficult, Yet So Important?

Jim Collison 2:51
It's your answer. And, and I love the fact that you're able to kind of say, I didn't necessarily plan this path. Listen, I think we're all in a similar boat -- we're negotiating our way through life, trying to figure things out. I didn't know, I didn't think, you know, 15-20 years ago, I'd be doing this right now. Yet we're here today. We're talking about negotiations or negotiating. And I think for some people, that's a very scary word. For others, it's a dirty word. Right? I mean, they think of buying a car and having to negotiate, right? That's probably, at least for, in the United States, that's probably the most difficult thing -- or house buying too, right, this, in negotiating. What, why, at the very top level, why is that so, why do we see that as such a difficult process? Why are people such a, so afraid of that? What do you think?

Susie Tomenchok 3:42
Yeah, I think we all have a different relationship with that word. And we, we've been taught that it's really important. Like there's something about negotiation that everybody understands it's an important skill. But we also tend to think of it, it's for this occasion, this time. And I'll watch a YouTube video before then I go, or I'll do something to get myself ready, because this high-stakes situation that the world has labeled as "high stakes" is only occasionally. And it's all around manipulation. I think car is the best one. Like, we can all get a visualization of well, who we believe that car salesperson is. And what's really interesting about that scenario -- I'm glad you brought it up -- is because that's probably one of the only situations where in a negotiation, we don't have a long-term relationship with that person. It doesn't really matter. But we just feel had by them.

Susie Tomenchok 4:34
And you know what, I'll tell you, I just recently bought a car. And I was, like, so ready. You know, I knew all my facts. I'm like, you know, I feel like sometimes if I say I'm a negotiation guru, I'd better, you know, show my chops wherever I go. So I had high expectations for myself. And then I get to the, so I did a really good job. I had, I felt like I reasoned very well, figured out, you know, the best deal I could get. And then I went to the finance guy. And I was like, ooh. And I even said to the finance guy, thinking he's my buddy, "Did I get a good deal? Did I do this well?" And then he sells me the warranty, and I totally fell for it -- hook, line and sinker, like, I put my guard down. And it's so interesting just to think about those situations that we -- and then we relax, or we put our guard down. But if we don't look at it like this situation, because it tenses us up and not enables us to think clearly.

Jim Collison 5:31
Yeah, and I think sometimes we think -- well, and let me, let me say this first, before I get to there. We, you and I come from a unique, very unique U.S. culture, where negotiations, where we don't negotiate for things, generally. You go to Walmart, you just buy it. It's the price, right? And there might be a clearance area or it might be on sale, right; that's as close as we get in our day to day. Around the world, actually, that's an exception. A lot of times, negotiating is a part of everything in a lot of different cultures. And so, we come at it uniquely from, I think, Americans -- and maybe other, other cultures that don't have that built in come at it from that, from that unique perspective. But really, when we think about negotiating, every day, we negotiate. And you're going to use this term, "high stakes." We negotiate, or we have to work our way through decisions, influencing people to move them in directions. Why, from a leadership perspective, why is that such a critical role for leaders to understand? And I think from a strengths perspective, we want to think our strengths probably influence the way we negotiate or influence, right? I want to kind of put those -- is it OK if I put those two words together? Can I put in-, can I put "influence" and "negotiate" kind of together on this? Why is that important for leaders, do you think?

Susie Tomenchok 6:48
Well, I think everybody would agree that the skill of negotiation is a critical skill for executives and for leaders, like, sometimes. But when you think about it as an umbrella skill set, it is so applicable to every day, meaning, when you're thoughtful, when -- the best negotiators consider the interests of the other party. And just going into a meeting, taking 30 seconds, you know, I went to a Harvard leadership and negotiation course a few months ago. And they said, when they do simulations, and they tell one group to, just for 30 seconds, consider the interests of the other party before they go in, that group has measurably better results than the other, just by simply taking 30 seconds.

Susie Tomenchok 7:37
And so when, when we, we, we're so fast in our everyday, that we go from meeting to meeting and conversation to conversation, and if we would just take a pause and kind of be thoughtful about our approach to think about the interests of the other party. How do we want to frame our ask? How do we anchor our ideas? How do we practice silence? And talk about coaching and strengths, that is such a critical piece to being a really good coach. But as leaders, those are things that are really difficult to do in practice. So when we get really intentional about using these things that they use in a negotiation, just as best practices, it makes us better humans, because it makes us show up -- as coaches know -- asking open-ended questions and listening and understanding kind of the other party and how they're moving through their, their understanding of what's going on. Those are keys to great negotiators. So if you're a good coach, you're a great negotiator.

How Do Our Talent Themes Power Our Negotiation Skills?

Jim Collison 8:41
Let's talk a little bit about you and your Top 5. We didn't mention those up front, but let's do that now. Give us your Top 5. And then I'm kind of interested, as you think about your own themes, How do they, how do those power, because I think our negotiation skills are probably powered by our themes, right, individually. So can you do that? Your Top 5 and then how you power your negotiations?

Susie Tomenchok 9:04
Yeah, so you're gonna know that I'm a good -- like I say these, and I'm like, Oh my gosh, people are gonna go, "Oh, no wonder!" Adaptability, Relator, Self-Assurance, Woo and Futuristic. And I look back on my journey, like we all do, and I can see how I naturally opted in. You know, they put me, they didn't have anybody else to put in the negotiation table. But I had these Relationship skills that were on fire. You know, you think about my Adaptability and just being, like, in the here now and being really thoughtful about what's going on. Getting my Relator, my Woo, my Self-Assurance -- sure, if I can do this, you know, let's figure out a path to success. I can see kind of my growth through those. And they make me really excited because I'm like, Yeah, this is what I was meant to do. It makes a lot of sense. And so I think that my, my talents made me believe before I had the skill that I could try and do. And I'd find the path to that, to the, the end.

Susie Tomenchok 10:12
And I see somebody in chat said, Has your Adaptability got in your way? And it absolutely has as well, is how I do fight against my Adaptability. It's such a great, because I will get, for me, the big thing is, when you're in a negotiation, you want to be as objective as you can. So the way you get that is you have to plan what you want. We have to be clear about your outcomes. And you have to think about what is that going to feel like being in my body, as I go through this? Because I get nervous; I don't want to take advantage of people. There's all these things and emotions and triggers that can get in our way. And my Adaptability can be like, Oh, I see your point. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I don't really need that; it could definitely work against. But so, for me, I have to have a plan. And I have to say this is, are the three things I'm gonna get. And if I don't get these three things, then you know, it's a walk-away, or I have to make, I have to make that line in the sand for my Adaptability, or else I will become, I won't get the end that I wanted to.

Jim Collison 11:18
Yeah, or it may be a case of a renegotiation, right -- a rediscussion of like, OK, well, OK, two out of three, but I'm gonna need some consensus for you, you know, or I'm gonna need some additional things from you on this. You know, it's interesting, I think we often think, you used that word, "high stakes," or I used that word, "high stakes," a little bit earlier. But even some of the smallest tasks that we do day to day, so I want to use you coming on Called to Coach as an example. Because I don't make it easy for folks to be on the program. Like, I intentionally throw -- I shouldn't be, I'm giving away my negotiation secrets here. OK, this is cone of silence for you guys listening live. But I put some, I intentionally put some barriers in place, because I don't want it to, I really, I want people to really want to do it. Right. I don't want, oftentimes folks will say, "I want to do it," and then I can't get anything from them. And so that working with them, you and I spent some time kind of negotiating. Like, OK, Susie, tell me, like, bring it! What, if you were going to be on the program, what would you bring? And so you then, it was your responsibility to come back to me and give the, like, here's the value I'm going to bring. Here's what, what we're thinking about.

Help! I'm Terrible at Negotiating!

Jim Collison 12:30
So we didn't trade anything in this, in this transaction. We didn't sign a con, a multimillion-dollar contract. And yet the process of getting to this point where we're today was a negotiation, right? Is there, for, so for people who are struggling thinking through this, like, Man, I just, I am terrible at negotiating! What kind of advice do you give them out of the chute? What could they be thinking about? What kind of some things maybe based on their Top 5 or, or all 34, if they have access to that? What kind of framework or what kind of things could they be using to start thinking about this, and reframing it from being, "Oh, I'm terrible at it. I don't want to do this," to "No, I need to do some of these things. How can I do it better?"

Susie Tomenchok 13:15
That was a big question. No, no, no, I'm just, I have so many things to, so many angles to go. So let's, let's talk a little bit about this high-stakes situation. So what is high stakes? We tend to think that people label high-stakes situations for us -- those occasions that come up occasionally, when you're negotiating a big deal, when you're doing these things that are high stakes that society tells us what they are. But truly high stakes is when it's meaningful to you, when it's, when it's something -- it could be something you're avoiding. And so high stakes can really, I, one tip is when you go into any conversation, let's just take going to a movie with your partner. Now, if you just want to spend time with them, and you don't really have a real, a movie that you really want to see, low stakes for you; whatever they want. But as soon as it's, it's the first, you know, it's a movie that you've been waiting to see. It's something that you want to be the first of, so that you can talk about it with your friends. All of a sudden, the stakes for you to convince the partner to go see the movie you want to see has shifted a little bit, because that's important to you.

Susie Tomenchok 14:36
Now, just having that awareness around what is, what is something I want? How important is this to me? allows you to get really clear about moving through that, that conversation and absolutely thinking about your strengths and how to adapt them in the right way and know when to turn them down. You know, my Adaptability making those decisions when it isn't that important to me drives people crazy. Because sure, if you don't want to go a movie, even though we've planned that for 2 weeks, I'm fine with going to, going to eat or do something instead. So it's just like the way, in every situation, we have to turn and be aware of our strengths and how they're working for that condition that we're moving into, that situation. It's the same thing with a negotiation to consider, How will my Adaptability and my Woo and Relator work for me in the situation, to build that trust, build that, that bond? Not, to make that person feel like they're not being manipulated? Like you said, when you were explaining all that, you said, I don't want people to think that this is a negotiation, but now I'm giving you all my cards. Well, that's, that's kind of the thing, that's the air of it. If we're, in order to signal reciprocity and get people to think creatively, you want to show them that, here's my interest too. Let's talk about this; let's, let's exchange this. What's important to you?

Jim Collison 16:07
What I hear you saying is getting to know the other person's -- when we're doing this, whatever that is, getting, getting to know the other person's best interest. Like, OK, what's in this for you? And here's what I need out of the transaction. Here's what I need. Sometimes we don't need a lot; sometimes we do need a lot out of it. And then thinking through this idea of How do we both win in this, right? And, and would you, would you, actually going into that, would you phrase it that way? In other words, having a conversation to say, Can you just tell me? Like, let's talk about, How do I help you in this? How do we both? How do we both? Is that, I think for some people, they feel like they're giving away the store if they do that. But is that a way to approach this?

Susie Tomenchok 16:53
Yeah, absolutely. Because you want people, like, how great is that? That's why I say it's, it makes us better humans. Because when you walk into a situation and say, You know what? This is something that's really important to me. And this is a situation that I've been thinking about for a while, because I've actually been avoiding having this conversation, because the outcome, I know, is important to you and to me. And I've been thinking about, so I've been thinking about what is really important to Jim? So let's take your example. You know, you want to make sure that when you have a high standard for this podcast and the people that are on here, and you want to have consistency. So you said to me, Hey, just so you know, this, there's a high bar. You have to follow these things. This is the standard. And so you set my expectations. You asked me, told me what I had to deliver. And because you gave me that clarity, I wanted so badly to reach to those expectations, and you weren't hidden about it.

Susie Tomenchok 17:53
You know, if you were hidden about it, and you asked me all these questions, and I'm like, Oh my gosh, like, when is this going to end? But when you frame it, it really does open up -- the game is that maybe sometimes you get what you want. And it's not a, you know, the win-win and win-lose is, like, kind of outdated. Do you know that negotiation came in the days of, started in legal, obviously, back in the '50s. And then it got to the business school. And now it is about How do you really think about the win and the win? And sometimes you have to consider your best interests over others. And there might be information that you don't, you don't tell, because you're framing it to help them understand your perspective, and not to take advantage of.

The Importance of Preparation in Negotiation

Jim Collison 18:42
How important do you think, in a, in a team setting, where we have little negotiations happening all the time, because we've got to get tasks done. I've got to get -- there's certain things. You know, for me, I think about just the two processes and both people that are involved in this negotiation are listening to this in the future. Both Roy, who does the video edits, and Mark, who does the audio transcriptions and writes all this stuff for me, they're, and in their own form, they're listening right now in the future, which is kind of weird to think about that. But as a, as an influencer, I have to negotiate with them on timelines and deadlines constantly. How important is it, then, for me, knowing the way they approach this from their own strengths? And are there some questions, as I'm learning that, are there some questions I could be asking them, as we think about coaches helping people negotiate? What kind of questions could I use to help me understand their negotiation framework -- the way they see this, so that we work better together? Any, any, any questions come to mind that would help me with that?

Susie Tomenchok 19:46
Yeah. So the key, just like finding a house, it's location, location, location; in negotiation, it's prepare, prepare, prepare. So when you sit back and think about your strengths, and you anticipate what your needs are, how, like I said before, as you walk through this, how, how will you aim those strengths in a way that's going to work best for you? Kind of going through that journey for you, so that you can identify when one might get in your way, or which one will help you move through the journey. Because in negotiation, and any situation or any relationship that you have, you're right: It goes through these ebbs and flows. Like, the negotiation starts -- a traditional negotiation starts with the first conversation. It's not a one-and-done; it's, it's all evolving. So all the things you say can be pieces that you tie back in. And we forget that. And so, when you think, so some of the questions that I would ask about moving into, such as a leader, or as you're coaching somebody, is what is -- this is my end; this is where I'm clear; that you have to get really clear first. What is important to them? Or what questions are they going to have?

Susie Tomenchok 21:01
What, if I am working with somebody that has a lot of Strategic Thinking themes, and I'm going to approach them, maybe I do want to say, Hey, listen, and send an email with an outline of some of the things I've been thinking. And here's, Mike, this is where I want to get in our meeting. Want to be really clear on this. So I just wanted to give you, these are the three points that I want to talk about and explore. And so that might meet their needs. So yes, you're, you're kind of showing your cards a little bit. But you're also saying, I see you. I understand you. I understand what might be important to you. And then that way, when they get to the table, or you're having the conversation with them, they already feel like you've thought about their interests. And you're anticipating what their needs are, so you can fulfill them in the best way.

Jim Collison 21:51
Yeah. I think that comes down to these, you know, these teamwork exercises that we do. I think sometimes we think they're just a, just about understanding each other. But we've also got this where we're constantly influencing one another in team roles, right? When we come, we're always negotiating, I guess is what I'm saying, in the things that we're doing just, every day I have these conversations with these, these two gentlemen that I work with. And it is, it's a negotiation. I actually need you to get this done. What can I do to help you, to make it better for you, so that we can get these, I can get these -- because they have all, they have pressures on their own? Right? They have other -- it's not like I'm their only customer. And so they, they've got pressures of their own. So for me, I think understanding not only what's in it for them, but how they approach it from their Top 5 perspective. Right? How do they operate in that, and how's that work for them? A couple questions from the chat room I want to get to, so we don't get too far away from them. Yuri says, What do you do for avoiding your Self-Assurance? It seems like that may come across as arrogance or over-intensity in your negotiations? How have you taken that theme and dialed it in in a way that works best for you?

Susie Tomenchok 23:06
That's a great question. I think back on, I remember one person, you know, because I was the negotiator for some of our deals. I remember what this gentleman said to me: "Can we just pretend that we, that I went back and forth with you a bunch of times, and that I got you, basically?" He goes, "I know you're really great negotiator. But I don't want to go through the process with you, because it makes me really nervous." I give him a lot of props for saying that, you know, and I was just kind of like in my head going, I don't know where you got that from. It's not like I have a sign on me that says, you know, "Pro" or I have a, you know, a medal. So that was kind of my first kind of awareness around what, how am I showing up in a way that does communicate this steadfast confidence, in that I will just take advantage of you maybe? I didn't want it to feel that way. So I lean on my other Relationship themes to really dial me down when I'm sitting in front of somebody that doesn't, doesn't have that same intensity. I have to be really, really intentional about how do I do that? And so for me, it's, it's adding space. Silence is a, is a great way to illustrate that you're listening and you understand. And so it's slowing down and being really aware of that cadence, that pacing, if you will, of a negotiation. And so Self-Assurance can be really bold, and let's get this done. So I've really had to be thoughtful about the other person and what their needs are, so that it doesn't feel overwhelming to them, and meet them where they are.

Making Negotiating Interactions Human, Normal

Jim Collison 24:57
Yeah, and I don't think it's always as easy as just knowing what to do in the moment all the time. I think you have to gauge, because there's certain situations, as leaders, where we just have to move forward. It's like, Sorry, like, this has to happen. You have to complete this training, or you can't work here. Like, it has to be done. And there's those moments where we have to negotiate through convincing them -- like, Hey, it's in your best interest. And there's not a lot I can give you for this. You just got to get it done. And then there's moments where we can pull back and say, Hey, this, this will work better if we do it all in this way. And get it, you know, and work together to get it done. I think Catherine makes a nice comment. She says, This makes me think about asking "IP" questions, right -- "I-P" for audio folks. Asking them what's Important to them, and asking what their Pain points are, right? The I and the P, especially helpful in job interviews and negotiating. I think, back to your original point, when we, when we're in this process, and we say, How do I make your life better with this? Is a different, is a different way in approaching it and saying, Look, I have needs. we see this a lot now in retail. You know, when somebody, when people complain about whatever -- they didn't get good service, or they didn't like what they got, or it didn't work. They come in saying, "Me, me, me. I didn't like it. I" -- as opposed to saying, Hey, I have a problem with this. But how do I help you, what can I do to help you help me fix this? Right? Is that, do you, do you hear a difference in that? Does that make any sense?

Susie Tomenchok 26:39
Yeah. Oh, I think that's exactly right. Any, you get worn down too, like, though, this is a human interaction. And they say, like, you should go back and forth, maybe three times. And then the other person kind of gets tired of it. You know, like, Yes, can you negotiate everything? Yes, but you're gonna ruin relationships along the way. I think about what you said, I went to Egypt the end of last year, and they negotiate everything. And I got to the point that I saw something I wanted at the shop, but I didn't want to negotiate; I just wanted to buy it. And so, as an American, it doesn't, it can feel overwhelming that everything is negotiable. And so you, you need to push and understand, understand the condition, so that you know when that's enough. You can't just go in blazing with everything and just use these best practices; you have to be thoughtful about how, how much to push that other person, and when to kind of pull back. And to answer your question about the, the best question, when you were talking, the best of me, you get the best of me. And when you think about, How can I show up in this situation and get the best of me? And that's a great question to ask somebody else too. And I think that's, that's just such a brilliant question.

Jim Collison 28:05
Yeah, it kind of makes me think we need to have like a, some team-building exercise with people we're negotiating with, before we go, like, Hey, look, just trust me -- this is going to be great. But let's get to know each other a little bit. And this is the hard part, right? We always think we're going to be the one -- and I think this is the fear -- is we're always going to be the one taken advantage of. Right? If I open up too early, if I give it all away, I'm going to, you know, I'm going to be taken advantage of. In negotiate, how do I, how do I get past that, Susie? How do I get past that fear? What, are there any techniques to think? Or do I just have to trust and move forward? But how do I get past that fear of being taken advantage of?

Susie Tomenchok 28:50
Yeah. I think we need to normalize this idea of negotiation more often and talk about it being something that is just in this interaction. And when we understand that we're not, our intention is not to manipulate, and to be really open, that's when we need to adjust that. And if somebody is being manipulative to you, and you, you see that, I think you call it out. And you say, That's, you know, hey, this, that's not my game. I'm, you know, I really feel like am I, am I, am I getting this? It feels like this is, like you had said this, but now, that doesn't seem to be the, the reality of the situation, and calling that out. But I think you need to try it and be a part of it and understand that when you are open to it, and you don't think of it in a negative way, you can use it as a tool instead of a weapon.

Susie Tomenchok 29:51
But you don't know -- that, that's the thing about manipulation, right? We don't ever really know. It's like having this, I call it a, it's probably a Woo hangover too, when I, when I go to a party or something, I've met everybody, I have a Woo hangover. But you also have this negotiation hangover. And if you're not clear about what you want, you're not, when you're, when you are clear, then when you get to the end, then you're satisfied with what you want. If you spend time thinking, Could I have gotten more money? Could I have done this differently? Those are things to think about. And, and, from your perspective, what could I have done better? But when you, when you dwell in what could have been, and you wonder if you, that, that they manipulated me or they could have, they did something differently, I don't know that that's time well spent to do that. But so you need to shift that thinking, and it's all about you. Because you know who our worst negotiator against us is ourselves and negotiating with ourselves.

Overcoming Self-Doubt

Jim Collison 30:56
Why do you think that is? Why do you think that is? Why do we, so why do we -- is it the doubt? Is it doubt that we struggle with of, we use words like "impostor syndrome" in these situations. Like, oh, no, I don't, I know I don't have everything it takes to be, you know, you think about getting a job. And you go in for the interview, and you're like, Aah, I don't know, if you, I don't even know why you're interviewing me. Because I don't have anything, you know, right. We're our own -- we take our, we take ourselves out of the running before we've even gone in, right? Is it that self-doubt that drives this, this, this effectiveness in negotiating? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Susie Tomenchok 31:34
Yeah, I, and it's very nuanced and subtle. It is, it's that, that voice that, you know, they say psychologically, if you can talk to yourself in third person, then it's almost like you're talking to your best friend so that you can say, when I have self-doubt about am I, should I be on this podcast? Do I have the expertise to be on this podcast? And I say, OK, Susie, do you -- and when I talk to myself like that, then the evidence that you need can kind of bubble up for you, so you can see it. But I believe it is that insecurity that we see ourselves in our own skin. And we have this -- you know, I listened to Billy Joel the other day, and he did like kind of unplugged. And he was talking about how they were, talking about, How do you get ready to get on the stage? And he said, "You know, I just walk from my dressing room to the stage." You know, like he just does it. But then he goes, "But sometimes I get up on the stage, and I'm like, what are all these people doing here?" And I don't know why it took Billy Joel to say that to me, don't -- well, not to me. But you know, I heard it.

Jim Collison 32:49
He did say it to you.

Susie Tomenchok 32:50
He said it to me, that Billy Joel has those same feelings, those same self-doubts in his head that I do. And so, having that awareness of when that comes in, like, oh, this really isn't the right time to do this. I should -- that person is not the, you know, they're not in a very good mood. We tend to put these things off. And it can be as simple as, you know, I have a really good friend who is a very well-respected executive. And she said, Oh, they're, they're asking me to speak for this women's group. And I think, Why me? My story is not important. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, that's crazy that you, you know, and so I had to talk her off the ledge. And then the very next day, somebody asked me basically the same. And I was like, Why me? And I think it's so interesting how we just don't -- we have to be aware of that, so that we don't get in our own way.

Jim Collison 33:45
Yeah, yeah. Well, we're afraid of failing, right, in that. I think that at the core is like, I'm afraid I'm gonna get up there. And when I was 19, I did an event, a public event, an emcee event, and it was a disaster. It was just an, and it set me back probably 5 years on my public speaking, because I proved to myself at that point that I couldn't do -- I wanted to do it; I knew I could do it. I didn't know my Top 5 in those days. This was like in the '80s. And so I didn't know it then. But it, that, that failure so impacted me for so many years. And I kind of needed to, I kind of, at that point, needed a coach to come through and say, Hey, look, OK, what went wrong? And I think, as we think about negotiation skills, I think this fits in, fits, fits in very well. What went wrong? OK, so how do we fix that? Or how do we set this up differently the next time, your expectations, so it can succeed? This is that self-negotiation, like, OK, well, I can't do all of that. But what can I do that I know, based on who I am, I can be successful with? As you, that's a question, like, a coach could use. "Yeah, I can't do that, because I failed." "OK, well, what can you do?"

Maximizing Your Influence

Jim Collison 35:02
That's a question. Are there other questions, like, as you're helping people be better negotiators, as you're helping leaders, and not just negotiating from the sense, I don't, I want to get away from the buying and selling negotiating. It's just that's a very small part of negotiations. We have to negotiate -- every day in the workplace, we have to negotiate work to be done. I used the example of Roy and Mark and my situation. I don't have, I don't manage them directly; I have to influence them in ways, right, to get things done. Are there other questions I could be asking myself or as, a coach could be asking others that help get to that point of, How do I get better at this area of influence or moving people in those directions? What do you think there? Are there other questions coaches could deploy?

Susie Tomenchok 35:47
Yeah, influence is really important within an organization, and all leaders should have kind of awareness around their influence. And so looking at the evidence that they have influence, you know, are they invited to important meetings? Are they asked questions to solve things? How are other people perceiving them? What are those blind spots? Those perceptions of them, and, and how do they -- how does it feel to be somebody around them, you know? And so asking the question of those self-awareness, and how they are within the organization. I think it's also really a great exercise to look at who does hold influence within that organization. Because that culture, that social system, those politics, really are unique to that organization. And so, when you see who holds influence, that can help you have a path to how do you gain that? And really, influence is all about being, say what you, what you're, do what you say you're going to do. You have trusted relationships with people. You do, you advocate for people. "Advocate," to me is you, you raise your hand, whether it's for you or for others, and you say how, why not me? And you notice the things around us?

Susie Tomenchok 37:18
That's what I think, is kind of the missing piece for me. I feel like when people understand that negotiation is a tool, it illuminates this other dimension of what's possible. And sometimes we miss things because we are in our head, because we don't assume, we don't ask the question, Wow -- instead of saying I, that, that person always gets these things, and you get kind of angry about it, ask a curious question like, How did they get that advanced? How did they get the a coach? How do they get that opportunity? Well, maybe they asked. And instead we just opt ourselves out, or we don't see these opportunities around me. When you're not clear where you're going professionally, I think another thing is, so many professionals look at themselves in their role. And as you coach people, you look at, they're, they're defining themselves as their role. Well, they have an obligation. What else do they want to develop as a professional in their entire journey? Well, when you're really clear on that, those opportunities, when you're in a -- this is so outdated -- elevator with a senior executive, you might say, "Hey, just so you know, I'm really interested in doing this." And you, you spark these ideas to places so that you not only opt yourself in, but other people will see you. Because influence is about being seen in a positive way, so that you can be influential to help get through barriers or boundaries for your team, but also to be seen and create opportunities for yourself and your team.

Having Confidence in Yourself -- Understanding Your Value

Jim Collison 38:54
We often, with leaders and managers, we often say, for those you're leading or managing, in conversations, what you say about their professional development or their, what their, their performance should never be a surprise, right? You should never shock them with it. I think sometimes, too, in the, in negotiating, especially in a team setting or in a group setting where, you know, again, beyond the car sale or, or negotiating the price of something, we, we surprise folks all of a sudden and say, Well, I've wanted this the whole time, but nobody would ever -- and you've never voiced it, right? How important is consistency in this area of influence? When we think about negotiating, of being, of having a consistent message of, yeah, how important is that consistency, the small "c," not the strength of Consistency, but the consistency of message in this. What do you think about that?

Susie Tomenchok 39:47
Gosh, I think that's so important. Because we believe everybody lives in here. It's almost like they can read what's important to us. But they don't. They don't -- even our, and even somebody that is responsible for our development does not always consider our needs first. And so being thoughtful about it, but how are you seeding, anchoring those ideas? How are you reminding people? How are you framing, Hey, you can do it in a, in a really positive way. Hey, I'm really excited that my team did a great job on this project. And I will -- I'm signaling, I'm anchoring -- I'm gonna, you know, in 3 months, come back and talk to you about some additional things that I want the team to get. And so I want to make sure that in this moment in time, we recognize and celebrate this. But this is such a great contribution to the overall organization. You know, just this project helped elevate or drive more revenue, or motivate and drive higher engagement for our teams.

Susie Tomenchok 40:58
And so being able to make those connections for people -- we think they are, but having that doesn't have to feel like it's self-promotion. It's, it's all how you frame things to people and help them see you. And I think it's our responsibility as professionals to figure out -- in our own voice, in our own way -- how do we do that? Because when we advocate for ourselves and our team, and we show and teach those best practices to others, and it's really understanding your value and being confident. When you understand your value, everybody knows -- people love to hear and, and listen to people that have high confidence, because we learn from them. And so when we live in that place of having confidence in who we are, then we're more available to voice that in a positive way. And it makes other people feel that and understand that. And really, when we think about it, we're selling our value. And that value is a value to the other person. That's the win-win.

Jim Collison 42:07
I think about Certified Coaches and coaches listening to this podcast. And their, their question, you know, from a negotiation standpoint, is How do I sell my services as a coach to people? And how do I? Because that's a negotiation, right? We, we often spend time, you know, with our coaches and coaching methodology of, in that very first coaching conversation, asking, What do you want to get out of this time that we're together? Right? What if we moved that question up to the, as we're, before we even start coaching with them to understand, like, I think, from what I'm learning from you, that could be a question we could use in the negotiation front part of it. To say, Hey, tell me, tell me what you want to, what would you want to get out of this thing? Before we even talk about coaching, what are we trying to do here? Like, what, what do you need help with? How can I help you, you know, how can I help you in what I know? Because you, you may get an answer you don't have a -- or you may get a question you don't have an answer to. And do you really, are you in the best spot to help influence them, if you don't have an answer to their question? That just came to me.

Jim Collison 43:17
I asked the chat room, what questions do they use to help influence, for those that they coach? Justin says, I like to explore how someone has connected with the person that they're trying to influence -- how well they know them in and out of the work topics -- kind of a little bit about what I just said there. Lisa says, I ask them how they've influenced in the past. I think this is a great question: Where have you been successful in the past? Right? How has that worked out for you?

Susie Tomenchok 43:42
Love that.

Jim Collison 43:42
Maybe even tying that to -- and maybe that's the anchoring that you're talking about a little bit, right, of that? Ken says, What is it that we both want -- and I think this, that reinforces the point -- and what is it that we both don't want? How important is it to, to work out the, the, to get the stuff we don't need out of the way when we're doing this? How important is that, Susie?

Susie Tomenchok 44:11
Well, you definitely have to be aware of it, and especially for you, right, to be able to -- you know, one, one best practice I like people to think about is, what are all the pieces of leverage that are at play? Positive, power, it can be hierarchy, it could be confidence, it could be the deal points that you want to talk about, the interests of the other party. All of the, all of the aspects, like, go and brainstorm, like, everything. And then prioritize and frame exactly, like, you have all of this work that you've done, and you identify everything -- and that's the good and the bad. And then you frame exactly what's important to you, and the story that you want to tell the other person. And while some of those things might hang outside of that, meaning, some of the things that the other person doesn't want to happen and maybe it doesn't come up in conversation. But if it does, then you've anticipated that, and you've thought about it and said, Oh, that's really interesting. Yeah, I thought about that, too. And that's why that won't work for me. Or that's why, you know, this is the plan I had for that just kind of illustrates that. But taking that time to really uncover and understand gives you a lot of agility in the moment, because you've kind of prethought that all through.

Susie Tomenchok 45:30
And it's not like you're, here's a good example. I had a friend of mine, who was a very top executive. And his CEO boss came to him, and they were promoting him. And a lot of money, you know, everything he ever wanted, but they were, they were paying the other guy more money than they were offering him. And they didn't respect him. So he knew why they were paying him more, because over 30 years, this guy was just given, you know, regular increases. And so this guy knew this. So did the CEO. But my friend went back to the CEO and said, "I appreciate the offer. I'm really excited about this additional responsibility. But the thing that bugs me is that you paid Hal more than you're paying me, which, to me, makes me feel like you don't respect me as much, because you didn't respect Hal? So can you give me more money?" Now, they all knew that he framed it -- he didn't say, "I know Hal's been here 30 years." And then the CEO would have been, "Exactly. I knew that, that's why I'm not giving you as much money." But he framed it. So it wasn't like he was being not honest. He wasn't, wasn't giving information that, that he was holding himself. But he was just being thoughtful about how he framed it.

Preparing Yourself Well for the "No" and the "Yes"

Jim Collison 46:52
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I love that. And I, also what I hear in that is in not in all negotiations does the, is the outcome the, what you're hoping for. I think sometimes, you know, we, we, and maybe in, in the American culture, where we go to the store, pick the thing off the shelf and buy it, it's successful every time. In these kind of negotiations, I think you often have to set up and be ready for someone to say, "Yeah, but we're still not gonna do it." And you go, "OK," and have, and to your point, and maybe even from a strengths perspective, thinking through the emotional impact. I'm going into this negotiation. If it's a "No," how am I going to respond to that? Because we can burn that bridge down in a hurry. And we may need that bridge in the future. Right? And to say, and to be as prepared for a "Yes" as we are a "No." And from a strengths perspective, to say, Look, and I know from my, I am quick to move on. And so in your 30-second, you talked about, Hey, let's take 30 seconds to understand. I might need to tack that 30 seconds on to the end, when we, right, when, if it's a "No," OK, I'm gonna give it 30 seconds before I say anything. I'm just gonna sit there and look, and I'm gonna think about this for a second, because I know high Adaptability, high Activator, high Arranger, I'm already thinking through what I'm going to do next. And in 10 seconds, I may make a decision I regret; in 30 seconds, that may be a better decision, right, thinking through that. I don't know, does that stir any thoughts for you?

Susie Tomenchok 48:29
Oh, my gosh. So right on point. And that would be the work for you, right, is to say, what if they say "No"? Or what is my walkaway? And then having a plan for that, so that in that moment, you don't do something you regret. And you made me think too, also for "Yes." You know, if you go in, and you expect this level, and they, they surprise you, and they say, "Not only this, I'm gonna give you -- " you know, and you're so surprised by it, the worst thing you can do is just go, "Yep. Where do I sign?" And the reason is, obviously, your emotions are high. When your emotions are high, you're not thinking clear, either. But it allows you to, like, contemplate, let's ask for some more time. But it also keeps the, it keeps the ego intact for the other person. Because when you signal, "Yes, let's sign right away," you've told them that you would have done it for a lot less, and that makes them feel bad. And you don't want that. So I think it's critical to think about, what does "No" look like? And what's my walkaway? And what am, what am I going to say? And always inserting silence. I think that's the best practice is, when, when you make an offer, or you're given an offer, learn to awkward silence of counting to 10 slowly. And same for "Yes."

Helping Your Coachees Improve Their Negotiating Skills

Jim Collison 49:59
Yeah. Yeah, it's, that's, that's really hard for me. That's like the, I always, I'm uncomfortable on the ask. And so as soon as they say "Yes" or "No," I'm like, "Good enough," boom. Like out, like it's done, instead of just waiting for a moment and just be like, OK, let me think. It's, listen, it's awkward on the other side as well. Like, you're making, we say silence; it means making it awkward. That's what you're doing, right? Because it's not, the other person on the other side of the table is not always prepared for that silence, either. They haven't thought through this. We're coming in on approach. We have a few minutes. Lisa asks a good question, and I kind of want to wrap our discussion with this and get super practical. She said, When you work with a client, where do you start? Do you have a methodology that you use with your corporate clients? So I'm kind of thinking from a, from a coaching perspective, if you were to give some great advice of, as you're helping, what's a, how do you do this? What's a real practical way that you could advise others maybe that are thinking about how to help their clients also with this area of influence?

Susie Tomenchok 51:07
Yeah, I think the first thing, as a best practice for all great coaches is, is to really understand how they see themselves, and starting to see the evidence of, of how they appear within that, that corporate culture. Because often people that don't hold influence have a blind spot to why. And so part of understanding and helping them is to be able to see it from a lot of different angles. So understanding it from them, and then asking those questions around how they do they have engagement? Giving very specific examples, and then making them or asking them to unveil what it looks like to them. Where, why, why is influence important to them? Where, what's the goal they're trying to attain? Where are they trying to go within the company? And then starting to ask them about those relationships. And what, what do those interactions look like? Because I think that the, the key to influence is in the, in the nuances of how they're engaging with others and whether they're, they're spending dwell time where they need to, and they're capitalizing on those right places.

Susie Tomenchok 52:33
So I would have somebody do kind of a heat map around influence. Who are all the people in the organization that are important to them? Where do they fall in that? And who do they connect with? Who did they connect with -- the 10 people they connected with in the last week. And if they're all just people that work for them, that's the first area. They should have arrows that go all over in the organization, and those should be regular touchpoints.

Jim Collison 53:00
And those might be in -- formal and informal, right. And I think this is an area where maybe, maybe the last 5 years, things have changed a lot, where those influences or influencing may not be direct. And so you've got to, which brings in another level of how I, how I negotiate through the situations and work through these people to get what the organization needs, or what I need for my organization, or what I need for me, and how am I going to do that in a situation where I don't maybe have direct responsibility, or I don't have a direct line to them? And how I would, I love, I'm thinking of this piece of paper, you know, we have a board of directors exercise where you put yourself in the middle, and then you start saying, who, if I had my own personal board of directors, who would they be, and why, right? I almost think of like that same exercise but from an Influencing standpoint, who, who do I need to work with on a basis to get, to get my job done? And maybe that backs all the way back up to, What's expected of me in this leadership role? What are the expectations the organization has for me? And then point those towards, OK, who's around me? And how am I going to use, how are my themes and theirs going to influence those conversations that we're going to have on a regular basis? That sounds kind of fun, maybe?

Susie Tomenchok 54:23
That's brilliant. Yeah, I think that's the key. Yeah.

Jim Collison 54:27
Anything else you'd add to that? And as we wrap it up, as you're think, you know, you've got, you've got a group, a couple thousand Certified Coaches and coaches around the world listening to this. Final words of encouragement to them, as you're thinking about both personally for them and then those they're coaching or influencing?

Susie Tomenchok 54:44
Yeah, I think it's not a one-and-done. And I think that people, especially in the leadership role when they're moving toward executive, considering your influence within the organization is something that you have to make space for, and you really need to be thoughtful around, because the shifting of the organizations are happening all the time. And especially as there's insecurity, those insecure times happen when there's downsizing and changes. And that being very aware of this in those times can really increase your chips in the influence game. And the thing I would tell coaches too: When you're running your business, don't be apprehensive about talking about the value you bring, and really understanding that and honing that and getting really good practice at saying it. At the beginning of the conversation, we often, like, don't want to talk about our value, but when you do it in a way that is expressing the value that the other party is going to get, it makes that getting the contract and getting all of those things set easier. So don't shy away from it.

Jim Collison 55:59
Little bonus content and a bonus question, for me, as well as for the audience listening, and then we'll wrap this up. Doing a podcast episode is an exercise in influencing. It's my job to ask you great questions, keep it interesting. Like, I'm negotiating with the audience of like, hey, are they engaged? This is why I have trouble doing a podcast without a chat room, because I'm getting constant feedback -- are we going? So tell me -- how did I do? How did I do this morning, as we're recording this, in influencing this? Or what kind of advice would you have for me as a coach? And what could I have done better, or what, or what did I do well? How about, how about that -- a little bonus content here?

Susie Tomenchok 56:38
Yeah, I love this bonus question, because it illustrates it so well is you were really intentional about this and understanding as you got further and further in podcasting about how important the influence of the audience and the connection. And you're so aware of, you got to have the chat room, because that is what really gives you that in-the-moment feedback. And so embracing that and take, and bringing that to life, it became kind of invisible to you, that you're asking for this to happen. So you're, you're, you've identified the conditions of this to make this you at your best. And asking for those ways, that interaction, asking the question and having high standards. So seeing this as a negotiation, I love that you brought this all full circle, because being able to use influence and use negotiation in our everyday then gives us those tools to go, This is, this is how I can make this great by thinking about those. So -- way to pull it all back!

Jim Collison 57:46
Thanks for that. Well, it's, it's an interesting application. Because I think, again, sometimes we think about negotiating as just about buying and selling. And we do this every day in our relationships and our, with our partners, with our family, with our children. Like, negotiation, in that sense, influencing is everywhere in this. And I think it's really, really important to understand that. I have an advantage: I've been doing this for 13 years now. And I kind of know, I'm comfortable with it. But it is always good to get feedback, even in these kinds of settings. What I did for you, what we, I would expect to do at the end of negotiation is to say, Hey, by the way, did we get there? Did we get everything that we needed? Right. And it's a good, I think it's a good way to wrap it up. Sometimes we get so excited that we got a "Yes," or so disappointed we got a "No," we forget to come back around and say, "Hey, give me a little feedback on that, if you're willing to. Did, did we get there? What could I have done differently? What could -- " or because, in some cases, there's going to be a second shot at this, right. I think sometimes we think it's a one-and-done. Well, most negotiations in life are gonna come around again. That's why you don't burn that bridge down. Right? You're like, OK, well, maybe not now. Maybe it's "No, not now," right; and not a "No, not ever." So I think there's some, there's some things to learn in that. Well, Susie, thanks for hanging out with me for an hour this morning. Always appreciate it. Like I said, you, you asked me, How long does this go? And I was like, almost always an hour. We just make it work that way. So thanks for coming out this morning to be a part of this. I appreciate it.

Jim Collison 59:28
Thank you so much. This is so fun. And thanks for all the questions in the chat room. That was super fun as well.

Jim Collison 59:33
If folks had questions, what's the best way to contact you, just so that they might -- one, do you invite those kinds of interactions? And then how do they, how would they contact you?

Susie Tomenchok 59:43
Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think the easiest way is just find me on LinkedIn. There's only one Susie Tomenchok, luckily for me.

Jim Collison 59:50
Spell it, spell it for me, for folks.

Susie Tomenchok 59:53
It's T-O-M-E-N-C-H-O-K.

Jim Collison 59:56
Perfect. Perfect. Yeah, well, and get that done. well, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available in Gallup Access head out to Log in. There's search. There's all kinds of stuff for you there. If you're interested in coaching, master coaching or if you want to become a Gallup- Certified Strengths Coach, like we've talked about, like Susie is, you can contact us. Send us an email: For future webcasts, and I'll get busy on those here -- as of this recording, there's not a lot out there, but head out to When I get back from a much-needed vacation, we'll get some more scheduled in there, and follow us there for all the details. Find us on any social group by searching "CliftonStrengths," and big thanks to the chat room today. You guys were a big part of the, of the influence of this episode. And so thanks for being there. We'll do this all again next time, for those listening live. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Susie Tomenchok's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Adaptability, Relator, Self-Assurance, Woo and Futuristic.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

Gallup®, CliftonStrengths® and each of the 34 CliftonStrengths theme names are trademarks of Gallup. Copyright © 2000 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030