a good review

I gave a training on negotiation a few weeks ago and in preparation found myself flipping through Getting to “Yes!” again.  Written by Roger Fisher and my sometimes negotiation boyfriend William Ury, Getting to “Yes!” was originally published in 1981.  It remains one of the very best books you can read about interest based negotiation, and if you haven’t read it, set aside an hour or two and slam through it.

In re-reading the book I was reminded that reviewing the basics now and again is necessary if you want to be a good negotiator.  Because even if you’re practicing every day, you can’t possibly remember to do everything correctly every time you negotiate.

I decided that now was as good a time as any to take a deep breath and review what we’ve been talking about here.

Everyone ready?  OK, let’s go.

Positional Bargaining is for Jerks 

Arguing over things rarely gets you what you want because (1) things are finite and (2) you don’t really want things.

Things are finite

When using positions to negotiate, you force yourself into situations where you’ll have to split things up.  For instance, if you are negotiating over how much you’ll be paid for a job and you approach it purely from the perspective of “I want $X/hour,” the other side will likely counter offer with $Y/hour and you’ll split the difference at $Z/hour, completely regardless as to the how, why, when or where of the job.

There’s a negotiation allegory (yes, we have allegories) about two sisters who are going through their late mother’s possessions.  They each want their mother’s wedding ring and tell one another emphatically what their position is: “I want the ring.”  After much back and forth but no give or take, the sisters decide to sell the ring and split the proceeds.  Only years later do they learn that one was interested in the diamond and the other the band.  They both could have had what they were actually interested in, but because they only talked about their positions, they didn’t discover that.

You don’t really want things

You don’t.  You think you do, but you don’t.  You think you do because you think that having The Thing will fulfill your interests better than any other possible solution.  But how can you know all the possible solutions if you haven’t discussed what you really want?  Just like talking out story ideas with other artists will produce more ideas than solitarily banging your head against a wall, talking about interests with your negotiating counterpart will produce more solutions to your problem.

Winners Argue by Proxy

If every time you negotiate you take it upon yourself to do all the work arguing for what you want, you are wasting your time.

Reasons why the above statement is true and not contrary to the entire purpose of this blog:

  1. If you spend all of your energy negotiating you will not have energy for anything else. And that will be counter productive to that whole “making art my career” thing you got going on.  The art you’ll have to sell won’t be as good or plentiful if all you’re doing all day is negotiating.  There are people who only negotiate; they are called “negotiators.”  Then there is everyone else.  Your goal is to know enough about negotiating to do well, not to gain a new career.
  2. You aren’t as believable as someone else is. Despite the advent of the internet, people tend to believe things they read more readily than things they hear.  When there is an independent source that supports your argument, people are more inclined to believe you.  Don’t believe me?  Three words: Kelley Blue Book.  (See what I did right there?  See?)
  3. You won’t be nearly as successful if you keep it up with all that fancy talking. Raise your hand if you loooooovvve listening to other people talk about themselves.  Yeah, no one does. So carve out some time in each negotiation to shut up and allow the other side think.  Just make sure that while they’re thinking they have lots of things to read that “just happen” to agree with you.  It will help their thinking process.

You’re Not Special.

Yes, you are a unique snowflake and your mother loves you, but what you’re doing, the business of art, is not special.



It is business.

Not talking about discounts you’re giving because you’re doing work for a friend is not OK.

Not frankly discussing time lines, costs and other interests because you like the client is not OK.

Not standing up for yourself when you’re being screwed over because you don’t think you can get a better deal is not OK.

Not asking because you’re intimidated is not OK.

These things are not OK because they are all bad business practices.  You know this because you laugh at it when it’s on The Office.  It is just as stupid an idea when you do it in real life.

Because your business is art doesn’t give you a pass.  As an artist you have to pay special attention to your business because folks will try and take advantage of you.  But you’re smarter than that.  And you don’t have to let them get away with it.  You can do this business stuff just fine; honest.

Phew. Talk about a review.

Coming up, we’ve got info on how to psych yourself up for a negotiation, how to figure out what to share and what not to share in a negotiation, how to deal with negative feedback and a guest or two talking about how they negotiate freelance business.  So stay tuned!

Special requests?  The comments work dandy, as does the email machine: workmadeforhire(at)gmail(dot)com.

Categories: Negotiation Strategy

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