Overheard at Angus Vol. XII: The art of negotiation

Listen to this tasty morsel of a conversation I eavesdropped on just last week . . .

Producer #1:  How are negotiations going with the actors for NAME OF NEW PLAY?

Producer #2:  I came up with a really good plan for the offers.

Producer #1:  Really? What’s that?

Producer #2:  Instead of giving them one offer, I gave them a choice.  $5,000 flat per week, or $4,000 per week plus a percentage of the gross.

Producer #1:  Interesting.   How did that work out?

Producer #2:  They all wanted $5,000 plus a percentage of the gross.

Offering options in a negotiation always seems like a good idea.  You’re being flexible.  You’re allowing the negotiatee to choose their own fiscal fate . . . more or less risk . . . it’s up to them.

The problem is that once you throw out options . . . people only see the best of both . . . and then they want a hybrid.  In other Angus-like words, they want to order off the menu.

So, unless you’re willing to say “take-it-or-leave-it”, don’t lay out different paths for your intended to take.  They’ll just see the best of both options and ask for it all.

And then you’ll be on a path to the poor house.

(For a great book on negotiating, check out this classic.)


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.