The business world is obsessed with strategizing around getting the most out of a deal—how to negotiate the sweetest hiring package or the biggest sale—and we tend to view this process as a pitched battle where we have to fight for every cent and only the toughest come out on top.

Sometimes this is very much the case, but not always. It happens more often than you would think that people receive killer offers they have only imagined in their dreams after very little negotiation, or even right out the gate. And when this happens it is shockingly common for people to start backpedaling and negotiating against themselves. Strange as it sounds, sometimes the hardest thing isn’t negotiating your way into a great agreement—it’s keeping your mouth shut once you’ve done it!

Play It Cool

Why on earth would this be? There are a few reasons. First, when we’re taken by surprise we aren’t at our keenest. If we expect one thing and then get another, there may just be an element of disbelief and in our flailing to get back on balance we may say something that isn’t in our own best interest, like “Oh wow, I wasn’t expecting that much. Are you sure?” Oops.

The second reason is that we simply don’t receive training on how to act in these situations. People are taught to expect adversarial negotiation processes, so they're ill-prepared to react if a different scenario plays out. Corporate negotiation seminars may cover all kinds of strategies for convincing the other side to increase its offer, but may never mention how to confidently and graciously accept a bonanza you hadn’t anticipated. In practice it’s not that hard to do. It’s as simple as:

  1. Pause
  2. Take a breath; and
  3. Say “That sounds great, I’ll have my lawyer look that over and I think we’ve got a deal!”

Who Let YOU In??

But there is one more reason people don’t naturally jump at dynamite offers, and we need to address it because it’s the elephant in the room: imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome tells us we're frauds who don't deserve the success we've achieved—as if our accomplishments are merely the result of a clerical error soon to be discovered and corrected. And because we tend to associate knowhow and legitimacy with how much money we're making, when someone offers to catapult us to the next level we freeze: do I really belong here? We think we know what we’re worth and if someone offers us more than that imposter syndrome tells us we must have lied or somehow misrepresented our value. Most of all, we are terrified that when it comes time to deliver we'll fall short and everyone will realize we don’t have the goods.

The thing is, if you didn’t think you could deliver, what business did you have making the deal in the first place, for any amount of money? You apply for a position because you believe you can do it; you start a company because you believe people will invest in it; you create a product because you believe people need it. Does the specific dollar figure attached to a deal really change anything?

You're Worth It

The assumption that larger-than-life expectations come attached to a larger-than-life paycheck just isn’t true most of the time. If someone has chosen to hire you, buy your product, or invest in your company, it’s because they want those things and have decided you are capable of delivering them. The price tag just reflects the value of those things to them. That may be hard to accept, but the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll beat imposter syndrome and the sooner you’ll stop negotiating against yourself!

Shut Up And Sign

You know how people say less is more? It’s true. When you’ve already gotten more than you could have hoped for out of a negotiation, the less you say the better. It’s time to shut up and sign.