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building different types of interdependencies” (Putnam, 2004, p. 276). Carol demonstrates
that by asking this manager to “delineate what wasn’t working for him” she was able to
move from general to specific and this prompted the conversation to change. Putnam
suggests that “shifts in the level of abstraction,” allow for critical moments to occur
(Putnam, 2004, p. 278).
A more appreciative approach would be to change the conversational dynamic from
thinking of the client as an opponent to a partner and figuring out how to move forward
together. Appreciative Inquiry, a methodological approach that engages what is working in
business as opposed to a problem discourse, improves the capacity for accomplishing a
goal and best utilizing resources. Carol, in that short exchange, moved the “problem talk”
to “possibility talk” and this moves the conversational dynamic from adversarial to one that
is more livable (Whitney, Cooperrider, Trosten-Bloom & Kaplin, 2005, p. 2) A simple
reframing of “what can I do to improve this situation?” allows for a more generative
discussion. “Appreciative managers bring an air of connectivity, gratitude, positivity and
empathy, which itself reduces conflict among people” (Bisen, 2011, p. 73).
The Contract Equalizer: The Renegotiation Option
Steven Tatar brings a secondary tier of expertise to the negotiating process and that is to
have a clear understanding of when either party, freelancer or contractor, has exceeded or
changed the original agreement and then renegotiation is in order:
I’m not efficient on time but I don’t stop until I know it’s good. Sometimes I spend
way more time than I should, and not because you keep changing your mind or
can’t give me information. I try to figure out what I believe the project should take
for an appropriate level of efficiency. I think this a project I should realistically be able
to accomplish in ten hours. I know where to pad and also know I have enough
experience to manage the process so it doesn’t turn into a runaway train. I also tell
my clients how I approach this, ‘I’d like us to recognize or agree that there’s a point
in the process or engagement when we’re getting beyond what I agreed to do. I
would like to do this for you and I think it’s valuable but we’re exceeding the
scope of my work or bid. If you want me to do that we have to discuss what’s
appropriate.’ That’s just me. I want an agreement so I know what I’m being paid for
and not just running the meter at the client’s expense.
This small caveat of a negotiation exemption, articulated in advance, allows the freelancer
and client to revisit the negotiation if the contours of the job change. This is a contract
equalizer that allows both the freelancer to make agreement alterations and still keep their
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