Getting Past a Setback

Any negotiator is going to face setbacks – probably including some serious ones.  Even if you follow all the advice we at Mobus Creative Negotiating give, sometimes things will not go your way.  It’s important to understand how, when you have been knocked down, to get up, dust yourself off, and move forward. 

Catherine Sanderson of Amherst College gives much advice about “how to prime your mind for optimism” – the title of one of her articles (How to Prime Your Mind for Optimism), which draws on her book The Positive Shift: Mastering Mindset to Improve Happiness, Health, and Longevity. She offers a series of practical suggestions for how to recover from a really bad negotiation:

      Reframe the stress: rather than seeing a difficulty as a calamity, see it at the very least as a challenge to be mitigated if not as an opportunity to do the unexpected.  Stuck at an airport? See it as a good chance to read that novel you had been meaning to get to.

      Treat yourself with compassion: instead of beating up on yourself, give yourself a break the same way you would treat a close friend who is having a hard time.

       Let it go: instead of ruminating about what went wrong, accept what’s happened and move on.  You can’t change the past, so concentrate on shaping the future.

       Avoid comparisons; instead, practice gratitude for what you have.  It is easy to feel inadequate when you look at all the wonderful things people’s Facebook describe themselves doing.  Remember that those posts are of highlights, not a full picture of what their life is like – and maybe not that accurate anyway. Yes, you have taken some knocks, but you also have some good things going on in life. As your grandmother would have put it, count your blessings.

     Find some humor, even if it is dark humor. She cites her high school freshman son Andrew who, on flunking a Spanish exam, said: now I can go for the end-of-the-year award given to the student who improves himself the most.