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The Art Of Negotiating And Learning Never To Sell Yourself Short

The art of negotiating

The Art of Negotiating. Do you know what you’re worth?

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Yet, if you carefully consider the implications of the question, you will see clearly just how important it is.

For example, we hear stories of all kinds of people who are victims of domestic abuse. Husbands and wives are pounded daily by their spouses. Yet they refuse to leave the relationship. Most would argue it’s because of low self-esteem. The victims have been so manipulated by their spouses, they cannot think for themselves anymore. In fact, sometimes making a decision by themselves is absolutely terrifying to them. They need their abuser.

Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

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But we’re not talking about relationships today. Rather, we’re talking about negotiations.

In life, the art of negotiating is almost a daily thing. We negotiate with all sorts of people for all sorts of things. We negotiate with our appearance. Our speech patterns. Our conduct. And so on.

Or what do you think dress as you want to be addressed means?

As a result, it’s important we’re conscious of these things and their implications. A strategist friend is fond of telling me to beware of unintended consequences, which simply means to know and understand the possible results of my actions – even if they’re different from what I expected.

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How skilled are you at the art of negotiating?

It starts from a place of value, understanding what you’re worth and then acting accordingly. And if we’re talking business, you have to understand what your earning capabilities are, upgrade if necessary – and then as before, acting accordingly.

When I go shopping especially for clothes, I try to do my research before entering the market. I have a general idea of what the piece of clothing I want goes for, and then I place my own value on it. I do not have a lot of patience for haggling; therefore once I find what I am looking for, I tell the salesperson what my value for it is.

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No matter what he says, no matter how many times he argues, once I fix on a price there’s no budging – except the item comes lower than I expected (which rarely happens). And once I buy it, I have bought it. I am not interested in what it costs at some other store. I do not want to know how much a friend paid for it. This is how much it is worth to me, and that is how much I paid for it.

In a couple of industries, particularly advertising, my experience shows there’s no particular pay for any particular position. Sure, there’s a pay range but where you fall on that scale depends on your ability to negotiate. Therefore, you may have two separate employees doing the same job but earning different salaries. Sure, sometimes it depends on exposure and experience – but more often than not, it’s simply based on the ability to negotiate. A friend once told me: “Never hesitate to correct your clients when they say your work is too expensive”. Teach them (your clients) that it’s not too expensive, but that they might not be able to afford it.

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Then let them tell you what they can afford and take it from there.

Freelancing is one hell of a market to negotiate in because no matter how deep in a niche what you do is, there’s almost always somebody willing to do the job cheaper. But – and that’s an emphatic one – if you know your onions and are confident in what you do, you won’t be afraid to tell your client politely but confidently to go find a cheaper option.

Kelechi Amadi-Obi is a renowned photographer, probably the most expensive, around these parts. Sometime in 2008 or thereabouts, I saw a receipt for photographs he took for a couple at their wedding. He was paid a hundred thousand Naira for two pictures!

Of course, it was just as incredulous to me as it probably is to right now, so I took the receipt to my friend the groom. And he confirmed that the man had taken several pictures, but they had only chosen two – and the two had cost that much.

Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

I remember thinking a hundred thousand naira was an obscene amount to pay for a picture – but that was just ignorance. Knowing what I know now, of Kelechi and of value, no amount is too much for anything. There are paintings – a line crossing canvas – that cost over a million dollars.

Learning the art of negotiating is everything in life. Be the best at what you do, and NEVER sell yourself short.


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