Negotiating is not one of my favorite things. Unreasonable demands…asking for more to get what you really want…not my style. Let others do that. The ones who love it. I am not of that tribe.

I have never been a person who stands so tall upon my own shoulders that chest-beating comes easily to me. Which makes it difficult, at times, to ask for what I want to get something I want more. The “asks” implicit in relationships, jobs: I would rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick.

That’s what agents are for.

Negotiating makes strangers out of potential friends. It reflects a distance that I do not prefer to believe (and naively so, perhaps) lives at the heart of a relationship-in-the-making. And yet, in business, it is finance that is the truest truth and friendship that is the overlay, the illusion. Businesses of all sorts make financial decisions daily that benefit themselves, some of them difficult, some of them unfortunate. Why should all parties not do the same?

That said, I do not undervalue myself. I do have a sense of my worth. Skill, speed, attitude, the ingenuity that comes with experience: They count for something. Or they ought to. And when one feels one’s worth under-appraised…listen for the sound of teeth grinding.

A man I recently met —a man rich in life experience, survivor of a very tough childhood—talked about the difference between want and need. It’s a good perspective to have right now.

I like who I am. I like where I am. I have what I need. There isn’t much that I want. Any hinky desperation of the past is…past. I pretty much want for nothing—at least at the moment. Making the right move is not a matter of making the only one offered. Possibilities abound. Which means that I can afford to consider my life’s opportunities in a way that might not have been available to me a few years ago.

The questions of the day are these: Would I ask for $5 million per movie…even if I were worth it? Would I demand the ultra-high figure for a book? Would I sell myself short just for the opportunity to do what I love to do?

The answer, in this moment, is no.

What will it take to make me happier than I am right now, at this moment? That’s the toughest question. The biggest one. It’s the height from which all futures are viewed. In a negotiation, that is my bottom line.

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