Lesson 9: Effective Negotiation

What You’ll Learn: A business negotiation requires a slightly different skill set than a personal one. In this lesson, we will look at how to effectively negotiate a contract or agreement so that both sides come out ahead.

Effective Negotiation (continued)

What do you need?

Ultimately, negotiation is about getting what you need, not what you want. You may be able to get what you want, but this is a short-term play. If you satisfy your needs instead of your wants, you will realize long-term growth and sustainability.

Nothing in life is free. Everything comes with a cost.

While you may desperately want to land that plum assignment for $35,000, what is the actual cost to you in terms of your needs? Is it going to take you away from your kids at night to finish? Are you going to have to compromise your creative vision to make it more vanilla for the client? Are other jobs going to pass you by that may have brought you greater joy and even more money down the road? Are you going to end up feeling energized or exhausted at the end?

The truth is, you may value work/life balance, creative freedom and the ability to work when you want to over the project that could pay your overdue bills. You must consider what you need versus what you want in any negotiation.

Here are a few examples that demonstrate the difference between want and need:



More money

To be valued and compensated fairly for my talent

Flexibility in the schedule

To be trusted that I can deliver no matter when and where I work

Creative license

The ability to deliver the best work possible, something the client and I can be proud of


These may look similar on the surface, but the wants are conditions, and needs are about respect as a creative. Wants and needs may align perfectly at times. At others, the nuances may be slight. But it’s essential to know that your needs may outweigh your wants, and this will heavily influence your strategy going into a negotiation and what the final outcome is. If you don’t know what you need and want, you won’t be able to negotiate as effectively.

Knowing when to walk

As you enter a negotiation, you want to be able to articulate your wants and needs while realizing that you aren’t going to get everything you ask for. The goal of a negotiation is to close the gap between what the prospect wants and needs and what you want and need. If the negotiations start going awry and you’re moving away from what you need, what you value and who you are, you may want to walk away from the table, at least temporarily.

As you give into your wants, you may find that what you need starts slipping further and further away. At some point, you have to recognize that the opportunity presented isn’t what you really need. If you continue to bend, you may end up looking in the mirror every morning, hating yourself for taking on a project that makes you so miserable and unfilled.

There may be times when you’re pretty close, but neither side is willing to go that extra step. It’s O.K. to offer to pick it up the next day or another time. A client that’s worth working with will be willing to come back to the table. And if they don’t, they weren’t meant to be your client.