As a creative and an Artrepreneur, at some point, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you’re going to have to negotiate. By having the skill of negotiation, you’ll be able to complete projects and/or run your business knowing you haven’t been taken advantage of. The last thing you want to do is come out of a deal feeling like you’ve given too much for so little gain–but that’s what can happen if you enter a negotiation unprepared.
When I landed my first position with a company that involved a salary, I was completely unequipped for when we started talking pay. It resulted in me walking out thinking I’d landed a decent paygrade, when in reality I had agreed to something far below what others in the position were making. Once I found out, I was devastated and swore to myself that I’d never make that mistake again and went out of my way to learn how to negotiate better deals. Since then, here’s what I’ve learned:
Be Prepared by Doing Your Research
One of the most important aspects of negotiation is knowing as much as you can about the person/company with whom you’re making a deal. You want to know things like:
- How much the other party is willing to pay. If I had known the average amount others were being paid for the position I was taking, I would’ve had a good starting point in terms of what to ask for. The same goes for how much you might be willing to pay.
- Determine both parties’ non-negotiables. You could consider this your ‘walk away clause’ (and you must be willing to walk away). These are things each party are unwilling to give up/ want included/ where someone draws the line; a transaction cannot be closed if these things aren’t met.
By completing the research process you’ll be confident entering into the negotiation process.
Be Confident and Make the First Offer.
The initial offer between either party is the starting point of a negotiation. It’s the deal that both parties begin to work around and usually the first party to make an offer comes out with the better deal. Being the first to set the terms can prevent low-ball offers and instead you can set the tone with a reasonably high offer. I say reasonable because you don’t want to scare them off. This is where doing all that research comes in. All of that prep work should have given you an idea of what the other party is willing to agree to—but that doesn’t mean you open with it. Nor should you open with what your target is. Start high and negotiate your way to that perfect deal.
Be an Active Listener: Recognize and Understand the Other Party’s View
You’re going to want to ask questions and listen more than you talk. Being an active listener is a great skill to have and can only further your negotiation skills. An accomplished negotiator has the ability to uncover the other’s way of thinking. With that knowledge you’ll potentially have an easier time persuading the other into agreeing to a deal. Not to mention, having the ability to listen allows you to understand what the other isn’t willing to give up and you’ll also be able to determine what you’re willing to compromise on. Just keep in mind that negotiations aren’t a competition and shouldn’t be considered win or lose situations.
Like any skill, negotiating is something that will only get better with practice. On a regular basis, I try finding opportunities to hone my negotiation skills and you should to. It doesn’t have to involve money. It could be as simple as negotiating what you’re going to have for dinner with your significant other. Just make sure you practice.