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Always Settling In Negotiations? This Strategy’s For You

Source | FastComapny : By TED LEONHARDT

Deadlines, deliverables, costs, your market value—these things might be top of mind for you when you’re negotiating a new deal or a job offer. But there’s actually more than that on the table. Or, to put it another way, there’s plenty that’s not on any proverbial table at all.

This other category of negotiating criteria is less tangible because it has to do with feelings, not facts. There’s a huge emotional component that each of us brings to negotiations, whether we realize it or not. And the ability to recognize those feelings and manage (not repress) them is as critical to your success as being able to calculate costs and nail deadlines. When you lack that self-knowledge, you risk selling yourself short or caving too easily in high-stakes discussions.

For independent workers, this happens the most while negotiating rates. Instead of really calculating a rate that lets us profit from our work, we often agree to the amount we think will get the contract signed and meet our immediate financial needs. I’ve coached people who fall into this trap, I’ve seen companies do it, and I’ve done it myself as a sole proprietor and (while I hate to admit it) as a leader, too.

In every instance, we succumb to an unacknowledged panic—an emotional reason to accept less, not a rational one. Beating that impulse means mastering our feelings.

PREPARE YOURSELF BEFOREHAND

How can you protect yourself from your own worst impulses? Two hours before your meeting, do this exercise:

  1. At the top of a page, write down the price you require in order toprofit from your work—not just break even.
  2. At the bottom of the page, draw a firm line.
  3. Back at the top, below your profit price, list all the possible objections you can think of. (There’s usually a multitude, and while I haven’t heard all of them through my career, I’ve heard some doozies.) Your task now is to list every single one you can imagine, including anything as ridiculous as the one I got years ago: “My brother-in-law will do it for a case of beer.”
  4. Then list how you’re going to respond to every single one of those objections. And, yes, you can write, “Sounds like your brother-in-law is an alcoholic!”—though, of course, you’ll never say it.
  5. Finally, on the bottom line, write your price again. Because your price is the bottom line.

AN “AHA” MOMENT TO AVOID

The usefulness of this exercise was brought home to me during the last few months as I coached a professional artist who’d identified a consistent problem in her work life: She resented how little she was paid for all the damn work she put in.

Sara paints murals for clients who own commercial buildings. She really loves what she does, but she came to me because she wanted to earn more money. “Painters like me are undervalued,” she told me in our first coaching session.

I wasn’t opposed to that idea, but I knew that only Sara could do something about how much Sara was paid. So I asked her just to consider the idea that she might be contributing to the problematic relationships she always seemed to find herself in.

Read On…

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