The spotlight on me

I was preening my rapidly greying hair yesterday while one of my daughters was looking on. I asked for her opinion and she said: “to be honest, Mum, I can’t tell the difference between when you think it looks good and when you don’t”. Then, in that condescending tone only teenagers can manage, she added: “It’s called the Spotlight Effect, you know”.

I did know and, ironically, I was succumbing to it.

The Spotlight Effect is a cognitive bias that makes us think we are being noticed way more than we really are. If we have been noticed, the Spotlight Effect makes us think the people who saw our slip-up or our flaw care much more than they really do.

It happens when we trip over, when we say something silly, and when we fixate on some perceived flaw or other. We think everyone has seen. And if they have seen, we think they care a great deal about it.

Have you ever felt self-conscious when you stumble over words in an important meeting or presentation? Probably. Have you ever cared or been judgemental when someone else stumbles in similar circumstances? Probably not.

What should we do?

  • Don’t let the Spotlight Effect win. Don’t avoid advocating for yourself because you are worried other people will notice or care.
  • When you do something great, don’t assume others have noticed. When you need others to know what you have achieved, find a way to tell them.

I work with my negotiation coaching clients to find ways of speaking up and speaking out in nerve-wracking situations. Get in touch if you want to learn more.

 

Embarrassment as a Superpower

Photo by me

 

I was on the sidelines of my daughter’s sport over the weekend, although this is no regular sporting field. The lucky girl sails and I had the pleasure of being out on the harbour on a support boat while she trained with her new sailing partner.

She has recently transitioned to a bigger two-person boat and I was chatting with the other sailor’s father and saying how pleased I am with the conscious coupling (see what I did there). The other sailor is a few years older and has been sailing larger, double-handed boats for several years. She is a kind and patient tutor to my daughter, and they are gelling well as a sailing duo.

I mentioned to the dad that my daughter had been embarrassed about her inexperience in the larger, double-handed boat but that this was abating with the thoughtful feedback she was receiving from his daughter.

To my surprise, instead of expressing pride at my praise of his daughter, he simply said: “I tell my kids that being able to cope with embarrassment is a superpower”.

And boom, mic drop, I have a new perspective on embarrassment!

I do already work with this concept (I set my negotiation coaching clients weekly challenges to help them get used to taking social risks and asking other people for things) but I hadn’t previously thought of it as a superpower.

On the surface, avoiding embarrassment seems like a good bit of self-care but there are times when it does more harm than good. If you never ask for things in case you hear “no”, you’ll never know what you can achieve. If you never make a mistake learning to sail a new boat, you’ll never learn how to improve.

Do you embrace the superpower of embarrassment?

 

The difference a month makes

I have just emailed a follow-up to a great group of people who attended my Introduction to Sustainable Negotiation training course a month ago. I like to follow up on Learning Plans a week, a month and three months after training and today’s email was the one-month check-in.

But what a month! A month ago, we had four Covid-19 cases in Australia and we’d never heard of social distancing. A month ago, there were no queues snaking around the block at Centrelink offices. A month ago, the Liberal Party still had its “Back in Black” mug for sale.

My follow-up emails are business as usual, but it is not business as usual in Australia right now.

Strangely, there is no better time to learn to negotiate – we are all negotiating for limited resources, many of us are negotiating with staff about changes to their jobs, some of us are facing unemployment and are negotiating with Centrelink and landlords, a few of us are negotiating with banks about interest rates, and almost all of us are negotiating with family members about how to share the house while we work from home.

It is not business as usual for me either. I have always delivered negotiation coaching over Zoom but am now adapting my group training courses to be delivered this way too.

Despite all this, it doesn’t feel quite right to be marketing at present. So, if you need support negotiating something or help with boosting your skills, get in touch. But if you just want to chat, or get a second opinion on a decision, or talk through what you have on your plate, that’s fine too. Just get in touch.

 

Coaching Women in Negotiation

Thought I’d share the good news that I am launching a new service. As usual, my interest is in negotiation and conflict resolution, but I am adding an extra focus on coaching women in negotiation.

There is lots of research that shows women find this difficult – a quick look at data about salary differences and work in the “second shift” at home says a lot.

If you know anyone looking for help in this area, please introduce us.