The designer's guide to negotiating like a boss

Being a terrible negotiator is epidemic among creative professionals. We avoid it, stick our heads in the sand, or perhaps worse, think were above it all and don't bother

So, I created a list of ten truths you must know to help you get what you need when youre feeling pressed.

01. Negotiation creates respect

Anytime you're talking to a client, employer, or even a co-worker, about money, deliverables or schedules, negotiation is expected. If you don't ask for what you need to succeed, you loose not only money, but respect.

And respect is more important than money because it leads to getting the kind of freedom needed to do your work. Respect gives you the power to achieve success, which leads to money. Expect to negotiate: do it, and see their respect for you rise.

02. Fear is normal

The anxieties we feel when negotiating are completely normal. Everyone feels them. They don't go away. I feel the same anxiety today that I felt in my twenties. But, in spite of the fear, I've become a skilled, negotiator.

You can too. Learn to expect the fear. It's a wake-up call. It's telling you to pay attention, to take action. And action is a proven way to regain your confidence. Action increases confidence and conquers fear. When negotiating the simple action of asking a question will reduce your fear.

03. Understand others

Our work is all about emotions, so its no wonder we wear our hearts on our sleeves when were at the bargaining table. As a creative your heart is always on the line. Accept this basic truth. Its a good thing.

It makes you more able to empathise with others. Learn to use your creativity to understand the vulnerabilities of others. And, in the process, increase your understanding and your feeing of well-being at the bargaining table.

04. Your energy is infectious

We're absolutely dedicated to doing the best work, when it's something we love. Let them see your restless pursuit of perfection in the service of their cause. Its infectious. Its powerful. Its persuasive. They'll want your creative power working for them when they know you understand them and that you will tirelessly pursue their cause.

05. Experience equals power

Your power and your leverage come entirely from what you can do for others. They need you, and only you, for what you can do for them. Truly great creatives, from Michelangelo to Steve Jobs, spent their lives focused on improving their expertise.

The difference between being good and truly standing apart is that focus on expertise. The better you get, the more they will need you and the less you will need to negotiate. Its simple; they need to meet your needs if they want your magic.

06. We all fear rejection

Asking for more is not about being greedy. Its about establishing your power in the relationship so you can help them achieve their goals. Afraid of rejection? We all are.

Practice asking for small things. Another week to complete the project. A few more dollars. A revised deliverables list. Whatever. The process of asking for small things will help you get past your fears. Its called rejection therapy. Try it. It works.

07. Planning help you to win

With the emotional pain caused by the stress of negotiating we often resist using our well-developed planning skills. Yes, negotiation produces anxiety, but anxiety is caused by unknowns and planning reduces unknowns.

Make a list of what you know and what you don't. The list of what you know should include the basic facts of the situation. The list of what you dont know should include what you think you need to know to be successful. The more unknowns you can transfer to the known list the better you will feel.

08. They feel the feelings too

We creatives make the emotional connections between: -companies and customers -products and people -films and feelings -music and memories Listen to the music make its magic.

Hear the story connect with your heart. That's what we do. It's extremely valuable. The images we create bring meaning to the feelings we all have. Creativity is our universal language. The feelings we evoke are the real power of our creative expertise. Use them to get what you need.

09. The only reason to negotiate is to get as much as you can

It is in their best interest for you to feel well paid. You wont be able to do your best if you dont feel valued. So bargain hard but with respectbecause, they will always remember how you made them feel. Ask for and get what you need to succeed for them and for you. Remember, you are worth it.

Words: Ted Leonhardt

Ted Leonhardt has dedicated his career to elevating the status of creatives. In the past he has worked as a designer, illustrator, CEO, global manager, consultant, and author. Follow him on Twitter at @tedleonhardt.

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