Negotiating thoughts

This weekend (Friday-Saturday) and next weekend (Friday-Sunday) I'm taking an intensive negotiations course at Wash U. "Intensive" really just means that you get a full semester's worth of credits on five eight-hour days of class.

For me it also feels intensive because it's uncomfortable. Deeply so.

On even the best day, and on topics that I care about—things that involve my family, time, money, etc.—I don't really like negotiating much. I'll do it, sure. I have to. It's part of life. Two people want something different, and you've got to work it out to be the same somehow. But I'm not particularly skilled at it and I don't like it.

In class it's harder. It's like trying to get intense about a sports practice. I never could do that either. It's hard to get pumped and take down a negotiating partner to the mat and get them to concede on some fake negotiation about repaying a disputed invoice, or about buying insurance, or whatever. I'm envious—seriously, unironically envious—of the students who can do that.

I want to quit.

I'm not going to quit. I just want to quit and make the pain go away. To make the pain of experiencing myself suffer at something—not suffering as in true pain, just the discomfort of embarrassment at constantly losing, the discomfort of having to meet someone one-on-one in a teleconference setup and try to win ("win") at negotiating, the visceral wanting-to-crawl-in-a-hole-and-never-come-out feeling of having to... I'm not sure what this feeling is, though I can feel it, even now, several hours later. It's a full body clench. It's a please don't ask me to persuade you to give me more money I will just take less so I don't have to ask you feeling. Which isn't even a feeling. It doesn't even make sense. It's just a class. It's just another student. It's the best time to be terrible at something—it's the safest place on earth to negotiate, and the entire purpose of the class is to get better at it. I literally signed up for the pain in order to get the result of the pain.

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