Saturday Morning Rounds September 26th, 2020 - What is stoicism, and how can it make you a better negotiator?

Posted by BossB, MD on September 26, 2020
BossB, MD

Saturday Morning Rounds

A weekly round-up of career & negotiation content for women physicians

What got our attention

If we had to write a short list of the schools of thought that most strongly influence our curriculum - especially the lifestyle design and negotiations portions - stoicism would be way up there.
And we're not alone. High-performers the world round - from Roman emperors to world-champion athletes, from T-Pain to Anna Kendrick - have looked to stoicism for practical wisdom on how to live and do well.
Which brings us to this week's article. Whether you're deeply familiar with the tradition or just now heard of it for the first time, this short read is a great examination of some of the most important traits that the stoics taught and embodied.
Many people, when they hear "stoicism," think "denial of emotion." And while the stoics were certainly world-class emotional regulators, there's so much more to the philosophy than that. In our "tip of the week," we will break down the 9 traits from the article and show how you can apply each one to negotiations and the business of medicine in general.  

Who we're following 

Stoicism is full of proverbs and aphorisms, which means that one of the best ways to learn about it is actually to do so slowly and intentionally, treating its concepts as opportunities for daily practice rather than a tome of knowledge to absorb as quickly as you can. The Daily Stoic (@dailystoic) is a great Twitter account to follow if you're interested in doing so. They post (you guessed it!) daily pull quotes from the annals of stoic wisdom - perfectly digestible little tidbits to contemplate and to put into action throughout your day.

BBMD tip of the week

As promised, here we'll break down the 9 traits from the article and draw some specific connections to your world and concepts that we've highlighted before.

The article is definitely worth reading on its own to get some more context, but here are the traits that the author believes were widely shared among stoic leaders and philosophers:

  • Good judges of value
    • Most of our clients first come to us focusing on money, but that's often not the most valuable thing on the table in a negotiation - time, staff support, resources for research, parental leave, the list goes on - can all be more meaningful concessions than money for you, and easier to give ground on for your counterpart as well
  • Sound aim and preparation
    • Readers of this newsletter are definitely no strangers to sound preparation, but opportunities to develop sound "aim" are few and far between in the rigid medical education and training process - hence the importance of spending time on lifestyle design before jumping into any negotiation, but especially before jumping into your first
  • Shrewdness and ingenuity
    • We talk a lot about being "other-centered" and proposing mutually beneficial solutions - a good negotiator shows shrewdness by anchoring their asks to something that matters for their counterpart rather than themselves, and ingenuity by proposing creative solutions that feel like a "win-win"
  • Tough on themselves, understanding of others
    • If we've said it once, we've said it a million times: ASSUME BEST INTENT
  • Modesty in speech, dress, and lifestyle
    • This might feel a little but preachy and dated at first glance, but the moment you don't need a job or that extra bit of salary, you immediately get a huge leg-up and a position of great power in a negotiation, which paradoxically will make you more likely to get the job or the salary bump - and one of the best ways to give yourself that leg-up is to avoid the "buying the big house and the nice car because I've delayed gratification for long enough" trap that so many early-career physicians fall into
  • Taming the tongue: listening more than talking
    • People love to hear the sound of their own voice, and if you can get your counterpart to do more talking than you in an interview or negotiation, you'll be almost guaranteed to maximize your informational advantage - the single most important key to succeeding in a negotiation
  • Kindness, fellowship, and fair dealing
    • The second most important key to succeeding in a negotiation is to maximize what we call emotional resonance - the feeling of mutual goodwill, high potential, and "being on the same page" - which could easily be alternatively stated as "kindness, fellowship, and fair dealing"
  • Bravery is serving the common good
    • In almost any business conversation, one of the quickest routes to finding the best possible outcome for yourself is not to focus on you or even on your counterpart - it's to focus on what's best for the institution that you both are in service of, and to keep framing your asks in terms of that "common good"
  • Character is fate
    • All of the best negotiation advice and business tactics won't help you if you haven't put in the work to be a great hire - that being said, most of our readers and most women in general err on the side of underconfidence and imposter syndrome - they absolutely have put in that work, but don't always allow themselves permission to really highlight that because it seems immodest. Your playing small serves nobody, so be sure to highlight the work you've put in, and the strength of your character and therefore your candidacy.
Quote we're contemplating

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” – Marcus Aurelius

PS - If you were forwarded this email and enjoyed it, subscribe here to make sure you don't miss out on future ones!
PPS - As always, please let us know your requests and suggestions by replying to this email (we read 'em all) or getting at us via Twitter. Which section above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Just send a tweet to @BossB_MD and put #SaturdayMorningRounds in there so we can find it.

Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!