Negotiating Better

Like many of us, you are probably hoping to make 2018 your best, most creative and inspired year yet. There are more ways to create, share, and earn income from your content than ever before and negotiation plays a critical role in making it all happen (hopefully on terms that are favorable to you!). In this post, we will provide you with the tips and techniques you will need to negotiate your way to a happier and more productive 2018!

First, let’s start with the overall goal of negotiation — to find common ground and move towards a common goal. The key to that is to understand what your individual goals and boundaries are by asking:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What am I willing to compromise on?
  • What will I absolutely not compromise on?

Dive a little deeper by also asking yourself:

  • Who am I negotiating with? — What do you know about the other party’s business dealings, reputation, and business interests outside of your negotiation? What do they want to achieve?
  • What are your alternatives? — Where else can you get what you need if your negotiations fail? Does the other party know that you have alternatives?
  • What is your magic number? — What is the figure, set of circumstances, or benefits that will satisfy you? You will want to start your negotiation higher than this baseline, anticipating that you will be negotiated down.

The way that you communicate and behave during negotiations can have the greatest impact on the actual outcome of the deal. If you set the right tone from the onset, negotiations can lead to a rewarding arrangement where both parties benefit and actively work together to support the new relationship.

Not sure what communication style or approach is the best fit for your negotiation? Try figuring out the other party’s decision-making style first to determine how to craft your communications. Logic, emotion, and vision are examples of primary decision-making triggers. Your goal is to identify what trigger or combination of triggers the other party will respond to best and to incorporate this into your communication strategy during your negotiations:

  1. Logic — “It makes sense to me.”
  2. Emotion — “It feels right to me.”
  3. Vision — “You can see the outcome” literally or figuratively.

Once you have begun negotiating, it’s not uncommon for things to stall or stray from your original plans — especially when you begin to dive deeper into details. Here are a few tips to keep things moving, regardless of where you are in the process:

  • Patience and adaptability — these are your friends during negotiation. As you fine-tune your arrangement, you may find your comfort zone shifting. It’s normal to have to re-assess your position and baseline from time to time as the deal shape changes.
  • Frame your negotiation— break your negotiations up into sections and prioritize each one. For example, you may consider holding off on tackling the harder parts of a negotiation until you have the smaller, easier parts resolved first.
  • Ask “why” — if the other party is consistently pushing back on a particular issue, don’t be afraid to ask “why” or to invite a deeper conversation. By getting to the root of the issue, you may be able to find creative ways to resolve it.
  • Leave room to wiggle — everyone likes to feel like they’ve won something. That being said, it helps to leave room in your negotiations for small concessions in order to satisfy the other party.
  • Don’t be a jerk — you never know when you will meet the party across from you again, or when you’ll need them. If the deal is morphing into something you are uncomfortable with, it’s better to simply walk away than to epically erupt.

In most cases you are going to need an attorney to assist you with negotiating, spotting potential legal hurdles that you may not be aware of, and drafting versions of your agreement. There are several resources to help you find an attorney and some may offer a free consultation to assess your needs. During this time you should ask:

  • How much experience do you have in dealing with this matter?
  • How have you handled this particular kind of matter before?
  • Do you have any conflicts of interest?
  • Have you had any sanctions or issues of misconduct?
  • What do you think is the most likely outcome?
  • What is your hourly fee and other potential expenses? (hourly/fixed/contingency)
  • How long do you think it will take to wrap my project?
  • Who will be doing the work? Lead attorneys may ask other to assist with your issue, which can have an impact on your legal fees.

If you are concerned about reducing legal fees, you can send your attorney a list of the key negotiation points you want to achieve (or have already achieved) in order to reduce the number of hours they spend negotiating on your behalf.

Lastly, here are a few tips for you when your negotiation concludes:

  • Store physical and digital copies of your agreements somewhere safe.
  • Make note of trigger events, such as renewal or termination windows, and record these on your calendar.
  • Designate a period of time for you to evaluate your agreements and experiences so that you can renegotiate efficiently.

Good luck, creators!