By Rebecca Eckler
You know Jake Gold as one of the judges (the snarky one) on Canadian Idol. But he’s also president of The Management Trust, an artist management firm. “All day and all night, I negotiate,” he says of managing creative types, including Gord Downie, Sass Jordan and producer Moe Berg.
I saw similarities between Gold’s life and mine (yours, too): managing the finicky demands, fragile egos and highly unpredictable personalities that populate the showbiz world sounds a lot like daily life with a child. So I asked him for negotiation pointers I could apply to my own life with three-year-old Rowan. Try Gold’s five win-win steps and seal each parent-child deal with ease.
Step 1: Identify wants and needs
Gold Says: “When you’re working on negotiations, your first step should always be to identify the wants and needs of both parties as a starting ground.”
Eckler’s Real Life Application: Rowan’s Bedtime My three-year-old daughter, Rowan, makes it pretty clear what she wants and doesn’t want: “I don’t want to go to bed. I want to watch tv!” meanwhile, I’m thinking, I want you to go to bed.
Step 2: Keep the communication going
Gold Says: “Sometimes people aren’t great at communicating what they want or need. They’ll storm out in frustration, or start yelling or making demands. But it’s important to listen to what they’re saying. Listening is as important as talking.”
Real Life When Rowan starts to scream, “I don’t want to wear those pyjamas,” I should consider just getting out the pyjamas she wants to wear, instead of yelling, “These pyjamas are fine!”
Step 3: Listen to the message buried in the begging
Gold Says: “Negotiations are about leverage. If someone’s begging, it shows you have the leverage.” But, he says, it also shows whatever they’re begging for means a lot to them.
Real Life Sometimes a tv show is more than just a tv show. Maybe when Rowan is begging me for one more Dora The Explorer episode, what she is really requesting is to spend more quality time alone with me, cuddled together on the sofa.
Step 4: Don’t cave into threats
Gold Says: “People remember if you give into threats.” You can’t set a precedent. “Threats are a sign of desperation. In many cases, threats are empty. So walk away.”
Real Life My three-year-old always threatens, “I’m not going to play with you anymore if you don’t let me stay up.” Which hurts, I’ll admit. But I know she’d actually hate it more to play alone.
Step 5: Budge (a bit) and close the deal
Gold Says: “Don’t look at it as giving in. It’s not a win-or-lose situation. You don’t want to be in a situation where one side isn’t happy, because that’ll come back and bite you in the ass.”
Real Life Upshot: if Rowan begs and pleads and screams and cries that she doesn’t want to get into her pyjamas, she wants to watch television, I could maybe bend a little, tell her she can watch one more episode ““ after she gets into her pyjamas ““ then go to bed.
“The ultimate goal of negotiations,” says Gold, “is to make both sides feel like they’ve won and that they’ve gotten what they wanted.”