Episode 29: Negotiating Creative Differences

Lots has been written about negotiating transactions—exchanges where I grant you something, in return for something else that you’ll turn over to me. I give you money (not too much, I hope) for your truck. You then use some of that to pay your piano teacher for your kids. And so on.

But what about situations it’s not physical objects or services that are on the table. Instead, it’s an idea, or a personal vision. Not something that can be easily traded. Most of us often do this kind of negotiation, though perhaps without deeply thinking about it.

It may be at work where your team is designing a new initiative. Maybe it’s in your community where you think an old school should be restored, but others think it should be torn down to create a vest pocket park.

These kinds of negotiations are light years away from conventional horse-trading. The ideas, the visions, are intangible. Their value is often hard to measure in financial terms. Yet people may feel passionately about what they envisage as it’s close to their identity. When someone rejects your concept, it can feel as a personal rejection.

Amy Chu our guest in this episode is back for an encore appearance is Amy Chu. You may remember  how she—with degrees from Wellesley College, MIT, and HBS—spoke with us about negotiating her way into a highly competitive, male-dominated field, writing comics.

It is also a field that requires collaboration among people with distinct talents and often conflicting ideas about how visual stories should be told. A writer lays out the script (Amy). Someone else does the line drawing. Another person colors that in. Yet another, inks in the text.

A writer like Amy must have a rich imagination, of course. But she also must be adept at fostering collaboration within a team whose members see things in different ways. Amy explains what she has learned in the comics industry. Her focus is on the relational dimension of the process. We think her insights apply across the board, whatever your endeavor.

Take a listen!

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