I watched an online presentation recently about how to keep your personal feelings from intruding on professional situations. I followed it with a discussion about how to deal with difficult people. I was trying to keep myself calm during thorny contract negotiations with a publisher over a book I wrote. My desire to be published at all costs was at war with asking for a contract that offered better terms.
Marine fabricators often find themselves facing these sorts of dilemmas. As creative professionals, you pour yourselves into projects and often undervalue the long hours and years of skill and experience necessary to bring these projects to fruition. Negotiations of any sort—with coworkers, clients and suppliers—can be stressful, but using both your head and heart wisely means they don’t have to derail the success of your projects or your business.
This issue is designed to help you address stressful situations more effectively. The feature “Dealing with Difficult Clients” offers advice from three experienced fabricators about dealing with tough customers without losing business. “Tools of the Trade” is a roundup of favorite homemade and store-bought tools that minimize production problems, and the “Premier Product Showcase” features 55 marine products from quality suppliers to help you create stellar projects with fewer headaches.
Mike Charlton, Charlton’s Custom Canvas, discusses how to overdeliver to your clients by approaching projects creatively. Mark Hood, MFC, Hood Canvas LLC, kicks your cushion fabrication skills to the next level, and Clint Halladay, SewLong Custom Covers, gives an honest account of how tough negotiations coupled with vulnerability creates a better company culture.
We negotiate constantly in our lives, both personally and professionally. I appreciate Eleanor Roosevelt’s guidance on this issue: “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” I followed her advice, and my book will be published next year.