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  • Writer's pictureStu

What is your Achilles heel when it comes to commercial conversations?

Could it be the NEED to be liked?

If there’s one thing that can undermine a professional influencer or negotiator, it’s the need to be liked.

Here’s the thing. We all bring needs into our important conversations. It’s a very human thing to do. It could be the need for respect, the need to meet a deadline or the need for certainty. The problem arises when we feel that a need that is important to us is under threat. And when it comes to threats, the need to be liked is particularly vulnerable. All it takes is a dismissive comment, an indifferent reaction or a negative response.

Our risk-averse brain sees the threat and responds by pushing the panic button. It processes social threats in much the same way as physical threats. Code Red. We slip into fight, flight or freeze, and any of these responses can compromise our presence and performance in the conversation.

Whenever I’m coaching or training a team that wants to build confidence for hard conversations, I hear Jim Camp’s words ringing in my ears: “You don’t need to be liked; you only WANT to be”. Jim, one of the world’s leading negotiation coaches, was on to something here. One of the most effective ways to help us to perform in a tricky conversation or negotiation is to reframe our needs as wants.

I don’t NEED the conversation to go well; I WANT it to go well

I don’t NEED them to accept this offer; I WANT them to accept it

I don’t NEED to be liked by Bob, I WANT to be liked

Let’s save the word “need” for genuine needs like oxygen, food, shelter and the love and affection of our friends and family. While it’s good to be liked by your counterparty (that’s quite influential), we certainly don’t NEED to be liked by them. If we bring that need into the conversation, we leave ourselves exposed.

By reframing needs as wants, we step into a safer space for our commercial conversations.


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