If you work in any creative industry, you’re bound to run into disputes with co-workers at some point. People have a tendency to get very particular when it comes to presenting their ideas, and even small details have the potential to cause massive rifts in a team or organization. If you’re a blogger, you could find yourself at the center of a heated dispute over your use of a particular word or phrase that an advertiser doesn’t like. Marketers of all kinds face similar problems when designing and implementing ad campaigns for picky clients.
There are plenty of other reasons you might need to negotiate if you’re involved in blogging or marketing: discussing your salary, pitching content, influencer outreach and project management are just a few. The workplace creates lots of potentially difficult scenarios, and chances are good that you don’t want to spend your entire career fighting with the people for which you work. You’d probably rather focus on the creative aspects of your job, like learning how to create engaging, high-quality content. While it’s not always possible to avoid conflict, what you can do is learn some essential negotiating skills to help you get through such situations gracefully. Here are seven of the essential negotiation skills for bloggers and marketers:
1.Practice active listening
When someone is giving you feedback on an article or a campaign, you want them to know that you understand—even if you don’t agree. If you’re in a face-to-face meeting with someone, your body language can tell them a lot (are you maintaining eye contact? You should be). On the other hand, if you work remotely then you’ll want to show your interest in other ways. Make sure to acknowledge feedback by asking follow-up questions about anything you don’t understand, and encouraging them to clarify. When the person you’re dealing with feels respected, it’s much easier to bring up differences of opinion.
2.Keep your questions open-ended
When you do ask follow-up questions about the feedback you’ve received, keep them positive and a little ambiguous. For example, instead of asking “What’s wrong with my approach?”, try something like “What else would you like to see from this project?” This lets the other party know that you’re as invested as they are in finding a constructive solution, which may encourage them to compromise.
3.Know your own value
Being aware of what you bring to the table is important in any organization, but as a marketer or blogger, it’s particularly important. When a client sees that you understand their needs, they’re often much more willing to give you some leeway and let you try out new ideas.
4.Be specific about your goals
People who set specific and ambitious goals tend to outperform people who don’t, so if you go into a negotiation with specific aims in mind you’ll be much more likely to achieve them.
Have the amount you want in mind when you’re asking for a raise, or rehearse your elevator pitch for that new blog post ahead of time.
5.Play to their emotions
Enthusiasm is contagious, so don’t be shy or apologetic about asking for what you want. Make it sound exciting, and you’ll probably find that the people around you get excited about it too. Even if they don’t go for it now, they’ll probably think it’s a good idea—and you might find that they give it to you at a later date. They might even think it was their idea!
Dennis Ross, a former peace negotiator in the Middle East under two different Presidents, has some excellent advice for negotiators: “To gain the hardest concessions, prove you understand what is important to the other side, [and] why certain concessions are so painful for it.” Empathy works when you’re trying to resolve a dispute. Clients and co-workers who see that you understand where they’re coming from may in turn become more sympathetic to your needs. This can increase your chances of reaching a mutually beneficial solution.
7.Know when to back down
Remember, if you’re a blogger or a marketer then you probably want to continue working with your clients after this job is over. Don’t treat negotiations like a zero-sum game—know what you’re willing to lose for the sake of maintaining the relationship. Letting go of something you want now might help you grow closer to your client, and put you in a better position to bargain when something even bigger is on the table later.
Keep the above in mind, and you should find that it’s easy to reach agreements with your clients, influencers, and editors. Try to stay amiable in the process, though—after all, getting along with people is key to getting what you want from them. With the right attitude, you might even find that your negotiations become pleasant. In any case, we wish you the best of luck getting your ideas into the mix.