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Combating Fear with Courage with Mala Subramaniam, Ep #351

Mala Subramaniam combating fear with courage

How do you combat fear with courage? How does your ego build walls in negotiations? And why, when you’re in a negotiation, should you only say something if you believe it? Mala Subramaniam—an Executive Coach, Author, and Speaker—has taught thousands of people the art of communication in negotiation. In this episode of Negotiations Ninja, Mala shares the #1 way you can combat fear in negotiation.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:38] Learn more about Mala Subramaniam
  • [4:12] Combating fear with courage
  • [7:56] How ego affects negotiations
  • [11:11] You have a responsibility…
  • [13:33] Only say it if you believe it
  • [16:55] Do you open yourself up to manipulation?
  • [20:50] A conversation about ageism

Combating Fear with Courage

Fear tends to be the largest emotion we feel in negotiation. We may not want to lose the deal. Maybe we don’t want to damage a relationship. Or we just don’t like being in conflict. How should we deal with our fear?

Mala believes that most people experience fear because they are afraid of losing. And when you operate out of fear, you’re bargaining, not negotiating. Bargaining is an event. You aren’t looking at building long-term relationships. You’re focused on needing to win at all costs. That’s what fear prompts.

The best way to overcome fear is to think of the broader goal. What needs to be done? How can you accomplish that? When you shift your mindset from being “me” focused, your strengths take over and overpower the fear.

Dare to dream: Ask for what you want

Mala was coaching a client through a salary negotiation. He knew that he wanted a $200,000 salary, to maintain four weeks of vacation, and have the freedom to function in the company. But their initial offer was only $150,000.

They were offering a hybrid working environment, which he thought would be ideal. He was also told that after one year, he’d be eligible for a 10% bonus. So he didn’t want to push back and ask for the $200,000 salary.

But Mala pointed out that if he was afraid to ask for what he wanted and accepted the job, he wouldn’t stay there for long. He would always think about the fact that he didn’t get what he really wanted. He’d be back to square one in a year.

Mala believes that you should dream and work toward what you want. He got the salary he wanted, vacation time, the hybrid work environment, and the freedom he needed to function because he overcame his fear.

Remove your ego from the equation

Our ego gets us into sticky situations, right? Sometimes our ego overrides what we need to do. Perhaps we get a lowball offer, and our ego gets hurt. Our response isn’t always logical. So how do we find a balance?

Mala notes that we all need an ego. But with ego and our identity comes responsibility and power. When power takes over, we get into trouble. You must balance the power and your responsibility.

Maybe you’re focusing on yourself. Are you trying to climb the ladder to a better position? Then you might be overly focused on gaining visibility. If you’re trying to win, you might focus on outwitting other people and making them feel small. Maybe you’re pushing for more resources than you need. Mala believes that is a misuse of power.

She emphasizes that Ego builds walls—it doesn’t build bridges. You won’t take others on the journey when you let your power overtake your identity. It will lead you to become abusive to others’ rights.

I have a responsibility to serve those who report to me, work with me, and work above me. That service mindset morally obligates me to put the people I represent before myself in any negotiation. When you embrace a broader perspective like this, you will win because you’re building relationships with all of the people in partnership with you.

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