Valentine’s Day is the worst! I’m a hopeless romantic but Valentine’s Day messes with expectations in ways that no candy/card/flower-giving day should! I spend the entire year making sure my wife knows that I love her but this one day puts so much pressure on doing something meaningful that I think if I don’t, it would somehow negate the other 364 days of devoted love. It wasn’t until my wife told me this one thing did everything change.
One year I was scrambling to do something really special. I had been planning it for weeks and things just weren’t coming together the way I had hoped. That led me to stressing about it and getting moody over it because I wanted it to be amazing. When Valentine’s Day finally happened, I felt the “something special” was just ok and it didn’t meet my expectations. I even started apologizing for what didn’t happen! That’s when my wife took my hand and said, “As long as I’m with you, every day is Valentine’s Day”.
That moment floored me. She reminded me of what mattered most to her and that all the other stuff didn’t matter. From that point forward, I’ve never stressed about another Valentine’s Day. Ironically, I think the same thing happens to us when we are trying to please a client, or partner with teammates, or even work with a vendor. We tend to stress on a lot of things that don’t matter and it makes the experience excruciating. Worst yet, while we’re stressing on the things that don’t matter, we miss the things that do.
I’ve tried to keep my wife’s lesson top of mind particularly when I’m at the negotiating table. Before I get too wound up on what I think matters, I take time to find out what matters most to the other party. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised on how many just focus on their own point of view and assumptions and really never stop to find out what’s important to the other person in the equation. When that happens they waste time focused on things that really don’t matter and they never leave enough time to focus on what creates value or matters most.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, do yourself a favor and find out what matters most to those in your life (in particular those you are negotiating with). You might be surprised to find out that you’re focused on the wrong things. Best case scenario, you’ll validate what matters most.
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