Whether you are an employee or a freelancer, there will come a time when you will need to engage in contract negotiations. This might sound scary to some of you, but with the right preparation and mindset, you will be well on your way to negotiating a successful contract. 

The most important part of negotiations is the preparation. Do not underestimate this. You must sit down and think through what you want. Beyond salary or pricing, what other factors can you negotiate to include in your contract? If you are an employee, you can negotiate for PTO, various benefits, 401(k) plans, phone plans, gym memberships and so on. If you are a contractor, you can negotiate timelines and various deliverables.

If you can have a conversation prior to the negotiation, take advantage of it. Find out what is important to your boss or client. Ask a lot of questions. If you are an employee, you need to ask for this meeting at least six months in advance. Find out what they are looking for from you. Find out what you need to accomplish to be promoted or given a raise. If you are a contractor, have an initial conversation with your potential client to discover what’s most important for them. Do they need to have the job done quickly, or can it take time? Is quality the most important issue? Do they want a team of people working on the project, and how important is pricing to them? Ask as many questions as possible. The more you can discover about them, the better prepared you will be when making an offer.

As you near the end of your preparation, put together a package or two which reflect what you would like ideally. If you present more than one proposal, make sure you are okay if the other side chooses either one. Practice making these proposals by saying them out loud. Allow your tongue and mouth to feel the words as you speak them. Speak slowly. Don’t rush. 

Finally, you want to role-play the negotiation with someone else. Make sure they are willing to play hardball and ask you difficult questions. That way, you will be prepared when these questions come up in the real negotiations. If you want to raise the bar even more for yourself, write out the script of your negotiations. Write it according to how you think the other side will react to you. Edit it, practice it. 

If you prepare thoroughly for your next contract negotiations, you will be surprised at how smoothly the negotiations go and how easily you navigate potential minefields during the discussions. Good luck!

Reach out to Alice at www.ShikinaMediation.com.

By Alice Shikina