Why It Feels Gross to Claim Value for Ourselves
Clients often tell me, “It feels gross to claim value for myself. It feels like bragging. It’s uncomfortable to assign dollar value to my accomplishments.”
In this episode, I dispel a persistent myth -- one that was ingrained in me by the patriarchy from a very young age -- that holds us back from generating real self-worth and authentic self-confidence.
Find out how to generate power, so you can claim value for yourself and become unstoppable as a negotiator.
Here's where you can access transcriptions of previous episodes and get in touch with me: https://www.jamieleecoach.com/podcast
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Hello! Welcome to Episode 52 of Born to Thrive with Jamie Lee. I’m your host and coach, Jamie Lee.
First, I just want to say thank you for listening!
I really appreciate you.
I would love if you would go to iTunes and leave a review because that would help other people find and access this content.
I really appreciate that my listeners are coming back and listening every week, every time I produce content, and I intend to create more podcasts this year, marrying the best of coaching principles, leadership principles, and helping you negotiate so that you can lead, influence, and thrive.
I was away last week. I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia and delivered a negotiation workshop for women who work in the nuclear industry. That was phenomenal!
And today I want to talk to you about why it feels gross to claim value for ourselves at the negotiation table.
When clients come to me, they’re often struggling with speaking and articulating their unique value at the negotiation table, especially when it comes to asking for money.
They tell me, “I don’t want to come across as too aggressive.”
“I don’t want to be seen as arrogant.”
“I don’t want to be seen as selfish or greedy.”
Or the often say, “It feels gross to brag about my accomplishments. It feels gross to assign a dollar to the value I bring.”
Now, I think that this is because, from a very young age, we’ve been trained to seek external validation from others.
I was born in South Korea and I was really trained to seek external validation from authority figures like parents, teachers, basically, the patriarchy.
And we’ve been told that conforming to the expectations of other people will make them feel good about us.
And when they feel good, they reward us with acceptance, recognition, and reward which sometimes takes the form of money.
We’ve been taught this myth that how we do, how we behave, makes other people feel something inside that then causes them to give us what we want and that, basically, the power is in their hands to give us what we really want for ourselves which is acceptance, recognition, and reward.
Take for example this common phrase, “Be a good girl and make mom proud.”
It feels so innocent and yet there is this myth, this lie that when you do something it will make other people feel something.
And I’ll tell you why I think that is not true.
And this line of thinking extends into the workplace where I used to believe that if I work hard and if I keep my head down then my boss will love me, then my boss will reward me with recognition, money, promotions.
When it feels gross to claim value for ourselves, we’re not only experiencing the feeling of powerlessness but we’re experiencing the fear of social rejection and losing the approval of others.
When I was afraid of losing other people’s approval, it was because I was relying on external validation to make me feel good about me on the inside. It was because I was relying on external validation to make me feel that I am worthy and that I can ask for what I want.
I was waiting.
I badly, badly wanted my boss to approve of me so that I could feel good and worthy inside.
So this meant that even though I was a fully grown adult, I was really acting as an emotional child. Emotional child basically means that I was relying on other people to make me feel something good, something worthy, some sense of certainty that I deliver value, that I deliver value and am worth the money that I want.
I believed my boss was responsible for both my positive emotions and negative emotions. I believed he was responsible for my lack of motivation, which I didn’t have a lot of and therefore that he was responsible for my lack of career fulfillment, lack of growth, that I was stuck in my career, and it was all because my boss was not giving me what I wanted so I can feel good and feel certain of my value.
So instead of feeling what I wanted to feel, which was fulfillment and worthiness, I was full of blame, anger, and resentment. They were gross feelings. Those feelings felt really gross.
I was not a lot of fun to be around at this time. I was full of misery. And you know, as the saying goes, misery loves company. I would complain and whine and throw temper tantrums about my boss behind my boss’ back. This is how I behaved as an emotional child.
But here is the truth that I have learned since then. Here is the truth that I think can help us really become powerful from the inside out: It’s that we are 100% responsible for our feelings.
Every moment. In every situation.
Yes, even at work.
Yes, even when it comes to claiming value for ourselves.
And especially when we are negotiating for what we want, for money, for example.
We are 100% responsible for the confidence we bring. We are 100% responsible for the nervousness we feel. We are 100% responsible for the certainty that we want to generate so that we can claim value with confidence.
Now this is because there are only five things in the Universe.
Number one: Circumstances, which are neutral, factual, and provable.
And how we interpret those circumstances is number two: our thoughts, our judgments, our beliefs.
And number three is that our thoughts generate our feelings, our emotions, which is so important in a negotiation.
According to research by MIT professor Jared Curhan, our feelings are the number one factor that is most important to negotiators.
It is not because feelings are fluffy, not because we’re soft people.
It’s because feelings drive number four: our actions. At the root of all our behavior is how we feel, and how we feel drives what we do or don’t do.
And then finally number five: the sum of our actions or inactions creates the results we have.
So, let me give you an example of this.
Back then, when I was acting as an emotional child in the workplace and always blaming my boss and feeling unworthy and therefore I felt gross to claim value for myself, I had the thought that he (it was always a he for some reason) should give me recognition.
At work, which is the neutral circumstance, I want him to give me recognition so that I can feel good about me and my value.
And when I had the thought that he should give me recognition, I felt a lot of resentment. I felt a lot of just this yucky feeling. That’s the phrase I like to label resentment. It’s yucky, it feels yucky to feel resentment, right?
And I was feeling this yucky resentment, I was complaining and whining and throwing temper tantrums behind my boss’ back. I was not speaking up at work. I was not contributing my ideas. I was very passive. I was waiting for him to give me recognition.
In negotiation, this is sometimes called the tiara syndrome, where we’re waiting for people to anoint us with validation and recognition, as opposed to us actively seeking what we want right?
So that’s what I was doing. And the sum of my actions, the result that I was creating by thinking that he should give me recognition, feeling yucky resentment, and not taking any action was that I was not giving myself recognition and I was also not giving him any recognition.
So there was no recognition to go around and it felt even more gross when I thought about claiming my value. There was no sense of power and certainty in this model.
So here’s another model I’d like to suggest:
At work, which is the neutral circumstance, what if you had the thought: I create value?
What if you had the thought: What I do benefits others?
So, don’t make it about other people. Don’t create manuals in which other people have to do certain things to make you feel good. But what if you dropped those manuals, you drop the shoulds, and you came from a place of real authenticity and personal responsibility, emotional responsibility?
I am responsible for how I feel and I can create value at work.
I create value that benefits others.
So, what if you had the thought and you really believed that I create value and I benefit others?
What would that feel like for you?
And maybe at this point you’re hearing this and you’re thinking, “I don’t know, it’s kind of inconceivable for me to think that I just feel that I am creating value that benefits others, period.”
But what if you did?
Because it is a choice. It is a choice for you to think that.
For me, when I think I am creating value that benefits others, it makes me feel valued. It makes me feel like I am worthy. That what I’m doing is worthy.
And from this place of feeling valued, I am motivated to create even more value. I am motivated to step out of my comfort zone and try to learn how I can benefit others.
I would be more willing to listen. I’d be more willing to take action to create even more value, because I feel inspired to think that I create value that benefits others.
And as a result, because I am taking action, because I am taking action from this place of feeling valued and feeling inspired, I would create even more value. And you see how the thought will help support the result that you have.
And the result creates evidence for the thought.
So this is great news because, as I said, we can choose all our thoughts and we can choose all our beliefs. And when we choose empowering thoughts, when choose empowering beliefs without relying on external validation, without relying on other people to make us feel something inside of us, this puts power back in our hands. This gives us that real, authentic power.
And we then can create emotions that we need to drive the actions that we do want to take. For example, claiming value for ourselves at the negotiation table.
If you really believed in yourself and did not rely on other people to tell you that you are valuable, you would be unstoppable when it comes to claiming value for yourself, when it comes to asking for what you want and requesting what you want because not only are you feeling confident from the inside out, you’re not relying on other people’s responses to make you feel good.
Even when they don’t follow through, even when they don’t say yes, you have the choice to decide what that means.
Again, this puts power right back in your hands instead of disempowering you. Instead of losing the negotiation, you can reframe your thinking and you can come back and try again and again, right?
The best negotiators are persistent negotiators because they can generate their own confidence. They can generate their own self-approval. They can generate their own self-recognition.
So this requires breaking the habit of thinking on default or thinking the way society or patriarchy trained us to thing, which is again relying on external validation, relying on other people to make us feel good and giving them a long list - and sometimes we don’t even give them a long list - of manuals, by which I mean a long list of instructions for how they can make us feel good.
Instead of doing that, we make honest requests, we make bold asks, and we don’t get disappointed, we don’t interpret it as a personal failure when people don’t follow through.
And when people don’t follow through, we can still move on.
And when we have this mastery over our thinking and therefore our own emotions, we create negotiation mastery. We become unstoppable. I really believe that.
And that is because when you lose the need for other people to make you feel comfortable, when you lose the need for other people to make you feel liked, or you lose the need to make you feel valuable, what could you not ask for?
There’s nothing that you couldn’t ask for.
We have full authority 100% of the time over how we feel, over how we think about ourselves, about other people and about the value we bring to the negotiation table.
We don’t have to wait for other people to give us acceptance, to give us recognition, to place a tiara on our head so that we can feel certain of our value, so that we don’t feel afraid of claiming value for ourselves.
We can generate that feeling of certainty within ourselves.
It’s not easy. It takes practice. It takes consistent effort. But it is possible.
We also don’t need to worry about what other people think.
Now, I know when people hear this, they will object and say “But, you know, it does matter because what other people think will impact how I rise or don’t rise through the ranks of this organization.”
But, ultimately, we are not what people think.
We are never limited by other people’s thoughts or judgments about us unless we believe them to be true.
And we are more than what people think of us. We are more than what we think of us.
And, in fact, one of the most powerful things that I do as a coach is I work with a client and I ask her to list all of her accomplishments and when I just play it back to her, the list of accomplishments that she has made, it’s always like, wow, you’ve done all of this. That’s amazing, right?
For a lot of us, it’s hard to feel that what we have done is worthwhile, worth the value that we’re asking for because we tend to be perfectionists, because we tend to wait for other people to give us validation.
But when we drop that need, we realize that what we have done is really valuable.
Who we are is uniquely valuable.
So, we have the power to decide who we are.
We have the power to decide who we will become in the future and that will give you a really powerful focus, a future focus, that will make you influential and make people inspired to change the status quo, which is basically the endgame of negotiation, right?
So, from this place of real and authentic power, we can generate self-acceptance. We can generate self-approval. We can generate real self-confidence.
And I just want to end this by sharing with you that this is the outcome I coach my clients to create for themselves so that they can lead, so that they can influence, so that they can negotiate, so that they can thrive on their own terms.
And I think that is a really beautiful outcome that is possible for everyone at any time because, again, we are 100% responsible for our feelings and we are capable of it.
So I hope that helps you think through why it feels gross to claim value for ourselves. I hope it helps you to put that power back in your hands.
I would love to hear from you: jamieleecoach.com/podcast. If you would leave a review, that would be fabulous.
Thank you so much and I will talk to you next week.