Removing the Awkward from Money Conversations

By: Sara Urquhart of Alt Summit Photo by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

I often hear creative people say their least favorite part of their business is…well, the business. They’re happy creating new projects and could come up with ideas for brand partnerships all day long, but for some people, when it’s time to talk money, the conversations are labeled as difficult and uncomfortable.

I admit it can be challenging to determine your rates and charge what you’re worth, but generally I have found that discomfort around money—whether it’s deciding what to charge or collecting an overdue invoice—often stems from the emotion we bring to it. It’s personal emotion that makes money conversations awkward, because, in reality, we deal with money all the time, and in most situations, we don’t feel uncomfortable at all.

Think about this: have you ever felt uncomfortable or awkward when the cashier at Target tells you how much you owe? (Ok, not counting that one time all that clearance stationary added up to more than you thought.) You’re not embarrassed when the cashier tells you the total, and it’s even more unlikely that you feel that cashier is being pushy or demanding by asking for your money. It’s a neutral transaction—she’s doing her job and you’re simply exchanging money for a product you want or need. Likewise, you’re not ashamed, embarrassed, or bitter about handing over your hard-earned money because you are thrilled to have those Nate Berkus bookends.

Imagine how ridiculous, and truly awkward it would be if the cashier instead was embarrassed and shy about giving you the total. What if she apologized, backtracked or implied you might not have enough money to pay for the things you want to purchase? Now, that would be awkward, and yet it’s sometimes the approach that creative people take when talking about money with sponsors, clients or business partners.

If you feel uncomfortable negotiating prices or reminding someone to pay you, understand that those are YOUR emotions at work, and they’re influencing an otherwise neutral transaction. When you let go of any beliefs about uncomfortable money conversations, you’ll find that money conversations are suddenly not so uncomfortable.