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An effective negotiation strategy for artists

Portrait of Symposia author Maya Ayson
Maya Ayson

Mar 13, 2022

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 min read

Arts advocate professional working on negotiation skills
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Negotiating effectively can mean the difference between getting what you want and walking away empty-handed. A creative person's guide to dealing is an essential read for anyone who wants to succeed in any field. In this article, we will discuss the more this subject some of the vital tips for negotiating as a creative professional.

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What you need to know before negotiating

The art of negotiating is a crucial sought and skill for any freelancer to have. You might be in a professional capacity when it comes time to bargain with clients or negotiate wages from your employer. Still, if you're also dealing with people on behalf of yourself and others--whether they are co-workers at work or family members around the dinner table—then there's some overlap between these two types of negotiation tactics.

The panel I curated and moderated at The New Museum explored the idea that negotiations have a lot more to do with our self-worth than just salary. We talked about topics like money or our financial interest, understanding how we're valued in professional settings as people of color - but also across all aspects of life for those who are not typically seen or heard? And what does it mean when you don't negotiate on your behalf?"

Negotiation is when two people or groups are trying to reach an agreement. It doesn't matter how big the deal is what position you're putting yourself in as part of this negotiation - your mindset for success must go beyond just being able to talk about money. This guide will teach everything from why negotiators need specific skill sets and tools before they even get started with talks throughout different phases/stages during any given negotiations, including pre-negotiations & post-closure periods (and everything else between).

Professional negotiation vs. personal negotiations

Negotiating constantly in my life. I find myself dealing with everyone around me, and even when it's just between myself and someone else on some minor matter like getting breakfast or an extra half hour of sleep, each morning-I'm always trying to get ahead by any means necessary.

The small, everyday negotiations we engage in are a vital part of life and can inform more significant decisions. For example: how much does your pay deserve? What kind of raise do you hope for at work?"

A negotiation is any conversation where people try reaching an agreement by compromising on something they want more than the other person or parties involved (Lose-lose). These little chats happen all day long--with ourselves.

This negotiating stuff may seem a little scary at first. Still, once we become aware that every single day our lives are being negotiated by us and, not just for more significant issues like salary or job offers- then the power of becoming an expert negotiator becomes clear. Just think about how deciding between sleep vs. breakfast pans out: You're ultimately deciding what value each thing has and then determining which approach will get your desired minimum viable outcome affect most efficiently.

Personal negotiation tactics

Negotiation is tricky because it often involves personal and professional desires. The critical difference between the two lies in how you approach your counterpart at any given time; negotiations will likely turn out well for everyone involved if they can feel like their needs matter.

The tone of voice in a debate about which ramen spot you should go to for your next meal could be very different than the one used when advocating for more money. I've seen people negotiate over food with surprising intensity, even if they are only espousing their preferences and not dealing with anything else like their own pay rates or hours spent on work projects versus personal time commitments.

The way we speak can change depending upon who needs us most at any moment; it's interesting how this works.

We all have a personality, and divorce from our professional behavior can be difficult for some of us.

Micro and macro practice negotiation tactics can help you before more major negotiation scenarios in your day-to-day life. From this, we learn how to stand up for ourselves when it is appropriate that we might compromise certain things and find out what matters most of all from any situation where there's negotiation going on.

desirable outcome when dealing with personal relationships

Personal values in negotiations

Your personal values shape will always play into negotiations because they guide your decision-making. A value is defined as "the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or value time more people might place a higher value on time than money, while others might see both as equal. However, it is essential to be aware of your values in any negotiation as they might influence your decisions.

For example, if you value honesty above all else, you might find it challenging to negotiate a business deal that involves lying to your client. However, if you are willing to compromise on your values, you might be able to find a way to negotiate the deal without being dishonest.

It is also essential to be aware of the values of the person you are negotiating with. If they place a high value on time, they might be more likely to agree to a shorter deadline. However, if they place a high value on money, they might resist giving discounts.

The Role of Emotions

It is no wonder that we are often influenced by our emotions when negotiating. How you feel can change on a dime, depending on what's happening around or with yourself at any given moment, both emotionally and mentally and physically.

This can lead to a painful self-perception, where we believe the way others treat us is what's fair. Additionally, our own self-perceptions of ourselves often align with this myth as well - for example, if you're notURIOUS enough, then it makes sense that no one would want your stuff anyway.

The negotiations process often starts with private negotiations between the parties before they come to the table.

Where negotiations get difficult

  • How negotiators perceive themselves is affected by life experiences and societal and cultural inputs. This, in turn, affects what others think about them as well.
  • The tone of voice you use in your negotiation will affect how much pressure or tension there is.
  • The negotiators' desired outcomes are often in alignment, but not always. This is because they can offer each other things that will make them happy or give their life meaning—and these desires come from different places depending on what has happened so far throughout history concerning societal and cultural inputs.

See the pattern here?

The negotiation process can be more challenging in societies where people are assigned positions of power or value based on their perceived abilities.

The negotiation process is a lot more than just putting on an amicable show for each other. It requires that both parties are in alignment. Otherwise, the conversation won't progress very far at all.

Know your must-haves and nice-to-haves

Needs are just as essential to take into consideration when negotiating. Satisfying your "needs" can lead you down a long, fulfilling path that will make both parties happier in the end. In contrast, satisfying desires only show those who care about what they want at any moment (or even throughout their lives). Imagine a situation where an opportunity comes along that would give you precisely what you wish to for $10,000. However, taking this deal may also force some significant Tradeoffs with your personal life: work/life balance, creative freedom, and growth opportunities? What do YOU need from business anyway?.

Negotiation is a process of thinking and deciding what you want. It's up to you, so make sure that your wants are factored into every negotiation decision.

When you're about to enter into a negotiation, take some time and think through what exactly it is that will help seal the deal for yourself. Here are some ideas:

What you may want:

  • More money
  • Ability to work remotely

What you need:

  • To feel acknowledged and fairly compensated for the value I provide
  • To know that I can provide excellent work no matter where I am employed

The process of identifying your wants and needs can be a daunting task. This is where the exercise comes in handy because you may find some things that were once important but now seem less so than what matters to you as a person; sometimes, this helps clear up how we articulate our desires better (or whether they're even legitimate).

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You should factor in your wants and needs when negotiating. This will help you get what you want out of the negotiation while satisfying the other party.

When should you walk away?

Negotiation is a delicate balance between what you want and need. When one party seems intent on pushing forward despite their reservations, it might be time for them to walk away from negotiations rather than continue down an unproductive path together with no resolution in sight—especially if said individual feels like they're moving too far away from core values or who "they truly are."

You might feel like a perfect opportunity will be the answer for you. Still, as soon as negotiations get tough and your needs start getting indulged in favor of what's best suited towards giving an offer that'll make them happy - it can become clear this isn't working out. Don't continue down such treacherous territory without realizing how far away from where we want our lives/lives to lead us.

The art of negotiation is all about finding that happy medium where you're getting what YOU want without giving up too much. But sometimes, when things get tough, and your opponent starts pushing for more than expected or suggests an idea that may not be in the best interests of both parties--it's OK to take a step back before making any decisions.

The dangers of being too open

The values that drive my work are respect, trust, and compassion. These traits apply to how I engage with colleagues and in everyday interactions.

Living one's values is a two-way street. I find that my actions and reactions are always influenced by what the other party brings to our relationship, be it good or bad for them (empathic communication example). And you can't know until after it's done whether your behavior met expectations in this case. Still, even then, there will only ever really come knowledge through reflection on how things played out overall - which means taking time off from living up to those same high standards every day.

What would happen if I was honest and trusted my partner, but then after working with them, it came to light that they didn't want those things? It's possible this could lead me into an arrangement where I'm micromanaged--which wouldn't allow for actual living values.

There are many telltale signs that someone does not respect your time. Suppose they communicate at all hours of the day and expect responses immediately, for example. In that case, this may be a red flag telling you straight-up their insecurity about how much faith or trustworthiness there is in between both parties involved with this transaction.

The tone should also warn since it mentions the potential dangers of being too open during negotiations.

When negotiating, be extra careful to look out for red flags. You'll know the signs because it won't feel good, and your intuition will tell you something is up this could mean that their values are being disregarded by them or, worse yet - taken advantage of somehow.

Strategizing beyond salary

My experience has shown me the challenges that women in technology face. As a person of color, I was firm about pursuing work with companies who share my values and beliefs--ones committed to both innovations for society and ensuring there is room at every level for everyone's contribution no matter what their race or gender identity be.

With the ability to work remotely, I've been able to find a more creative and flexible schedule that fits my needs. There are several coffee shops in my West Village neighborhood where I like to go during lunchtime to network with people from different industries than what we typically see at our office every day - this allows us to build connections while getting out of typical routine.

Salary negotiations can be a scary experience, but it is essential to prepare. Before going into any job-related discussions with your employer, make sure you have asked for what's necessary and want in addition to paying rates.

Man with desired outcome expecting responses immediately

Questions to ask yourself

You cannot answer whether or not you're on the same page with someone by asking a few questions.

I find that the following questions have been helpful in my professional life. I've divided them into two categories: negotiating with clients and finding out what you want from other people, like hiring managers or service beneficiaries (the ones who will reap benefits).

For the candidate

  • What am I hoping to achieve?
  • What is the real cause of my desire for this result?
  • Is the aim I'm pursuing short-term or long-term (or both)?
  • Is the trade equitable?
  • Do I feel comfortable negotiating with the individual or entity in question?
  • What degree of time, effort, or emotional commitment am I prepared to make—both during the negotiation and in the course of our future relationship?
  • Is there a clear gap between the market value and my estimation of the weight I provide?

For those hiring

  • What is the desired result you hope to achieve through bargaining?
  • What is the bare minimum that you are willing to accept?
  • What are the steps you need to take to reach your desired result? Are you willing to make adjustments in scope if required?
  • How will the ideal and minimal viable results affect those around you?
  • How committed are you to achieving the best possible result (emotionally, financially, etc.)?
  • Are there discussions you need to have with other key stakeholders/decision-makers to help you achieve your goal?

In Conclusion

So as a creative writer, now that you're familiar with the basics of negotiating, it's time to put this information into practice. Remember always to be prepared and do your research before any negotiation. Know what you want and need going in, and stay true to yourself. Most importantly, have fun with it. The best negotiations are those where both parties feel like they won something in the end.

  1. Negotiating is essential for achieving desired results in any situation.
  2. Prepare before any negotiation by knowing what you want and need.
  3. Stay true to yourself during the negotiation and be prepared to make compromises.
  4. Be aware of the other person's needs to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.  
  5. Most importantly, have fun with it and be prepared for a challenging but rewarding experience.
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