JV and collaboration are the buzzwords du jour. Sadly, some people are just paying lip service to this idea and at the back of their minds, they are afraid of “being exploited”, or taken advantage of.
“What’s the catch?” “Where’s the small print?” would inevitably cross our minds, as we are conditioned to be skeptical. We were conditioned to protect ourselves so we don’t get taken advantage of. However, by clamming down on our natural generosity and desire to contribute to a bigger whole, we may also limit the possibilities and opportunities we can open up for ourselves.
Collaboration is great, and it’s a new paradigm of doing business. Gone are the days of hoarding resources and playing zero-sum games. We have the capability to create more if we share our knowledge and cheer each other on.
Great collaboration is based on trust, generosity and “give before you take.”
Being “generous” in business does not equate to becoming a martyr, a sucker, a loser, or being weak. We all have the capability to be generous without short-changing ourselves, therefore creating a win-win situation (or, I like to say, have your cake and eat it too.)
For many, the fear of “being exploited,” or the bad experience of being taken advantage of, stem from poor (money) boundary and being disempowered in (money) conversations.
This is actually good news, because if it’s our own boundary crime to commit, we can take action to upgrade our mindset so we can enter into collaborative relationships without holding back, knowing full well that when our boundary is being challenged or our voice is being disempowered, we can stand up for ourselves and our business.
A lot of our boundary issues have their roots in cultural conditioning (read: that’s not your fault!) We are taught to be “nice”, to make everybody happy, to please others and to avoid conflict.
Our fear of not being liked makes us compromise our boundaries and not speak up for ourselves, under the illusion that we will be “accepted” if we compromise, or even sacrifice ourselves.
The lack of trust in others in a collaborative relationship is a reflection of the lack of trust we have in ourselves –
the lack of trust in ourselves that we can say “no” when we need to, the lack of trust that we can hold up our integrity to ourselves when “social pressure” is on.
We have the rights and the freedom to say “no” anytime certain arrangement is infringing on our integrity, or anyone is challenging our boundaries. It is about being honest with what is acceptable (to yourself and to others) and have an empowered voice to be clear about the “scope” of the collaboration, so there is no grey area for anything to be “up for debate”, therefore putting us “between a rock and a hard place.”
Being upfront about the “scope” of a working relationship is NOT nickel-and-diming. So often we avoid a confrontational situation by not getting clear on money matters – it may create an illusion of “being accepted” or “getting along” in the beginning, but if things venture into the grey area, we are the ones to suffer the consequences that more often than not, benefit neither party.
Challenges with boundary and voice can show up in many circumstances. Money situations provide a very telling illustration because it is easy to tell when you are exhibiting behaviors that reflect poor boundary or disempowered voice – your bottom line and your bank account will let you know.
Strengthen Your Money Boundary
To strengthen your money boundary, first you need to recognize how your boundaries are being challenged:
- Write down a situation in which your money boundary is compromised (e.g. discounting your services; deciding in advance that someone can’t afford to pay your fees; bartering; charging less because you are afraid to lose a client, over-delivering in the form of going overtime in sessions or “throwing things in” that are out of the original scope; delivering services before you get paid.)
- Ask: What negative belief about money are you willing to release in order to make a positive impact with this situation?
(Your own beliefs bring “charge” to the situation. Money in and of itself, is neutral – it is just numbers in your bank account, or papers in your wallet.)
- Ask: If money were sacred to you in this situation, how would you treat and value it?
- Write down your new boundary in this situation.
- Fill in: the action I will take by [date] is _______________________
- Write down: How much money you will save/make by strengthening your boundary in this situation? (Now, are you willing to make the change?)
Empower Your Voice
Voice, throat chakra, manifestation. If you can’t voice your thoughts, how can you manifest your truth? This exercise will help you speak up when you need to:
- Write down a situation in which you are afraid to give voice to your value (e.g. stating your fees (or doing so “apologetically”); negotiating with a vendor; asking that clients pay for your services promptly; saying “no” to discounting or “out of scope” requests from clients; discussing money with your spouse or family; discussing debt; discussing with your spouse about investing in your business.)
- In that situation, what are you secretly afraid of? (e.g. rejection, not being approved of, losing love, not being liked, being judged, end up with nothing)
- What if being afraid of [answer to #2] is no longer important to you?
- How would you feel?
- Who would you BE and what action would you take?
- What would you SAY?
Release Your Fears
A lot of times, we don’t hold up our boundaries or speak up for ourselves because of some underlying fears. As a Fear Releasing Method Certified Coach, I work with the 7 primary fears that are the root cause of many of our self-sabotaging behaviors.
When we are afraid to speak up in a collaborative relationship, ask for clarification or set up agreements, it could be due to these fears:
- The Fear of Inadequacy – if you feel like you are not good enough, you don’t have the confidence to challenge others. You may be afraid to ask questions because it may reaffirm your limiting belief that you don’t know enough, or worse, you ARE not good enough.
- The Fear of being Vulnerable – if you don’t want to appear vulnerable, you may “puff up” and appear that you know it all. You don’t want to ask questions that make you appear not knowledgeable.
- The Fear of Missing Out – if you are afraid that if you don’t “act now” and get on board the opportunity will disappear – and this fear drives you to make hasty decisions before you have all the facts and review all the documents.
After you recognize your fears, you will be able to see them coming – and it’s not the time to beat yourself up! We all have fears. It’s part of being human. But we don’t have to be controlled by our fears. We can be aware of them, acknowledge them, and release them. It’s not a one-time magic pill kind of thing. Releasing and taming your fears takes willingness, awareness, and stick-to-it-ness. This article outlines a 5-minute 6-step process you can use anytime, anywhere.
Last but not least, if you have been burned before, it’s time to take responsibility to evaluate where in the process had you given up your voice or exhibited poor boundaries. Letting go of the victim mentality is the first step to empowerment.
Doing inner work to make an impact on your business success and bottom line is the essence of Business SoulworkTM– this is a New Paradigm of Business Artistry… find out how you can create a profitable and sustainable business that is a full expression of yourself.