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12 Effective Writing Steps That Every Talented Writer Masters

12 Effective Writing Steps That Every Talented Writer Masters

Writing is one of the most important skills you’ll ever need to master in life. Whether it’s writing a letter, a resume, a blog post like this, a card, a book, an email, a text message, an accident report, a sales page, or anything else that requires the communication of thoughts or ideas. Writing, and in turn, reading, are two of the most essential talents to possess in life. A good writer can do virtually anything!

I never realized how important writing was personally until I became an entrepreneur. I write blog posts every day, I write emails many times a day, I write posts on social media throughout the day, and I write script on my email list daily. If I had not mastered this skill, I wouldn’t have survived. My business would’ve only lasted about a week before I called it quits.

But I did master this skill. And I’m so thankful for it. And I’m thankful to all my English teachers throughout grade school who kept me on track and made me write essay after essay and gave me what seemed like endless criticism at the time. The endless critiquing actually honed my skill, though at the time I despised it!

But what I’ve learn over the years about writing can pretty much be whittled down into 12 simple steps. These steps can be applied to just about anything. Trust me, whether I’m writing a text message or working on my next book, I stick to using these 12 effective writing steps and they always serve to get the best message out of me!

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1. Eliminate All Distractions

Before you embark on any particular writing task, you must clear all noise from your mind. If that means going in a quiet room, turning off your phone, or locking yourself in a closet with just your laptop, then do it! This is often one of the biggest hurdles of writing. People who don’t make time to write can’t actually write anything.

2. Think of What You Want To Write

Map out exactly what you want to write about in your head. Have a good idea about a topic, a theme, and a point that you want to make. You’re not writing anything just yet, but come up with a plan about what subject you want to write about before you do anything else.

3. Decide Who You Are Writing To

Figure out who your audience is. Is it entrepreneurs, is it union workers, is it moms, is it teenagers, is it middle-aged men, is it someone just like you, or is it someone completely different? Figure this out before you do anything else.

4. Brainstorm All Your Ideas Out

Now you can begin the actual writing process. Either take a pen and a piece of paper (my personal favorite) or just open up your word processor on your computer and begin.

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The brainstorming process simply jot out points to cover in your writing. I usually use bullets for this, and I just write out a bunch of random points or cool-sounding sentences that pop into my head that I know I want to include.

When you have a bunch of points written out, no matter how arbitrary, you are done with this step.

5. Zip Through And Write Out Everything That Comes To Mind

If it’s not open by now, open up your laptop and word processor. Now, taking the points from your brainstorm, and taking points that come to your mind in the moment, write out everything that comes to you. Just let your mind flow and let words start putting themselves on your computer screen!

6. Don’t Try To Make Things Pretty—Just Write!

Continue doing this until you finish. Do not stop and try to make things pretty or fix little spelling errors or mistakes. This only slows you down and messes up the natural flow. This is the trick to finishing things. Many people get distracted and then stop because they become so overwhelmed by trying to make everything perfect. Do not do this!

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7. Now Make Things Pretty And Touch Things Up

If you’ve followed the steps correctly thus far, you can now touch things up and make them sound better. Go back and read through your document slowly. Examine your sentences and how they flow. Replace words that you repeat with different words, put commas in place to make necessary pauses, and touch up all noticeable errors.

8. Put In A Great Opener

These next few sentences will blow your mind! That’s the type of writing that catches the eye and creates interest and intrigue in what is being said. Make sure when you are touching your document up, that you include a great opener. If you have a boring introduction with a boring first sentence and a boring first paragraph, nobody will want to read your stuff!

9. Spell Check

Use the spell check next. Although not a fool-proof system for catching errors, the spell check is still incredibly effective at catching easy and often overlooked mistakes within a writing.

10. Have A Friend Proofread It

Knowing that the spell check is not going to find every error on your page, it’s imperative that you have another set of eyes look over your content. It’s one thing to look something over with our own eyes and read it over and over again and think that it’s incredibly awesome. But it’s another thing to have another, unbiased and impartial judgment giving you feedback and helping you find overlooked mistakes.

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11. Make Necessary Changes

Take what the proofer says and look back on your text one last time. If you think your friend is right on what they said, listen to them. If you honestly consider their points and disagree with some things, then keep things the way you want them!

After all, it is your writing and you know best what you are trying to convey. Just remember that a good proofreader is there to help you, so try not to shut down everything they’ve suggested.

12. Publish

And now, it’s time to publish! If you’ve gone through all of these steps carefully you should be thrilled that you have an awesome piece of writing to share with the world! Sit back and enjoy your work and let others see what you’ve worked hard to create. Writing that is shared, respected, and praised, is the epitome of achievement for any true author.

Follow these steps and see your writing improve. All talented writers use some sort of list similar to this. So reference this whenever you have a tough time figuring out how to write something. It works!

We all have a story to tell, and by following these 12 steps you can share your story with the world right now!

Featured photo credit: Caleb Roenigk via flickr.com

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Justin Stenstrom

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Published on September 23, 2020

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

6 Effective Negotiation Skills to Master

I don’t know about you, but many times when I hear the word negotiate I think of lawyers working out a business deal or having to do battle with a car salesman to try to get a lower price. Since I am in recruiting, the term “negotiation” comes up when someone is attempting to get a higher compensation package.

If we think about it, we tend to negotiate almost every day in a wide variety of things we do. Getting a handle on the important negotiation skills can be incredibly beneficial in many parts of our lives. Let’s take a look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

What is Negotiation?

First, let’s take a look at what negotiation is. Put simply, negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process in which compromise or agreement can be reached without argument or dispute.

Anytime two people or sides disagree on something, they are almost always looking for the best possible outcome for their side. This could be from an individual’s perspective or someone representing an organization.

In reality, it’s rare that one side gets everything they want and the other side gets nothing that they are seeking. Seeking to reach a common ground of sorts where both sides feel like they are getting most of what they want is the key to being successful and maintaining the relationship.

Places We Negotiate

I’ve mentioned that we negotiate in just about all phases of our life. For those of you who are shaking your head no, I invite you to think about the following:

1. Work/Business

This one is the most obvious and it’s what naturally comes to mind when we think of the word “negotiate”.

When you first started at your current job, you might have asked for a higher salary. It could be that you delivered a huge new client to your company and used this as leverage in your most recent evaluation for more compensation. If you work with vendors (and just about every company does), maybe you worked them to a lower price or better contract terms.

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In recruiting, I negotiate with candidates and hiring managers all the time to land the best talent I can find. It’s very common to accept additional work with the (sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken) agreement that it will benefit your career in the future.

Recently, I took over a project that was my boss was working on so that I would be able to attend a conference later in the year. And so it goes, we do this all day long at work.

2. Personal

I don’t know about you, but I negotiate with my spouse all the time. I’ll cook dinner with the understanding that she does the dishes. Who wants to mow the lawn and who wants to vacuum and dust the house?

I think we should save 10% for retirement, but she thinks 5% is plenty. Therefore, we save 8%. And don’t even get me started with my kids. My older daughter can borrow my car as soon as she finishes her chores. My younger daughter can go hang out with her friends when her homework is done.

Then, there are all those interactions in our personal lives outside our homes. The carpenter wants to charge me $12,000 to build a new deck. I think $10,000 is plenty so we agree on $11,000. I ask my neighbor if I can borrow his snowblower in the winter if I invite him over the next time I grill steak. And so on.

3. Ourselves

You didn’t expect this one, did you? We negotiate with ourselves all day long.

I’ll make sure I don’t skip my workout tomorrow since I’m going to have that extra piece of pizza. My spouse has been quiet the last few days, is it worth me asking her about, or should I leave it alone? I think the car place charged me for some repairs that weren’t needed, should I say something or just let it go? I know my friend has been having some personal challenges, should I check in with him? We’ve been friends for a long time, I’m sure he’d come to me if he needed help. I’ve got the #4 pick in this year’s Fantasy Football draft, should I choose a running back or a wide receiver?

Think about that non-stop voice inside your head. It always seems to be chattering away about something and many times, it’s us negotiating with ourselves. I’ll finish up that report that the boss needs before I turn on the football game.

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Why Negotiation Skills Are So Important

Put simply, negotiation skills are important because we all interact with other people, and not only other people but other organizations and groups of people as well.

We all rarely want the same thing or outcome. Most of the time a vendor is looking at getting you to pay a higher price for something than you want to spend. Therefore, it’s important to negotiate to some middle ground that works well for both sides.

My wife and I disagree on how much to save for retirement. If we weren’t married it wouldn’t be an issue. We’d each contribute how much we wanted to on our retirement funds. We choose to be married, so we have to come to some agreement that we both feel comfortable with. We have to compromise. Therefore, we have to negotiate.

If we each lived on a planet by ourselves, we would be free to do just about anything we wanted to. We wouldn’t have to compromise with anyone because we wouldn’t interact with anyone. We would make every choice unilaterally the way we wanted to.

As we all know, this isn’t how things are. We are constantly interacting with other people and organizations, each one with their own agenda’s, viewpoints, and opinions. Therefore, we have to be able to work together.

6 Negotiation Skills to Master

Having strong negotiation skills helps us create win-win situations with others, allowing us to get most of what we want in conjunction with others around us.

Now, let’s look at 6 effective negotiation skills to master.

1. Preparation

Preparation is a key place to start with when getting ready to negotiate. Being prepared means having a clear vision of what you want and how you’d go about achieving it. It means knowing what the end goal looks like and also what you are willing to give to get it.

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It also means knowing who you are negotiating with and what areas they might be willing to compromise on. You should also know what your “bottom line” is. By “bottom line” I mean what is the most you are willing to give up to get what you want.

For instance, several years ago, I decided it was time to get a newer car. I say newer because I wanted a “new to me” car, not a brand new car. I did my research and figured out what type of car I wanted. I decided on what must-have items on the car I wanted, the highest amount of miles that would already be on it, the colors I was willing to get it in, and the highest amount of money I was willing to pay.

After visiting numerous car dealerships I was able to negotiate buying a car. I knew what I was willing to give up (amount of money) and what I was willing to accept, things like the color, amount of miles, etc. I came prepared. This is critical.

2. Clear Communication

The next key skill you need to be an effective negotiator is clear communication. You have to be able to clearly articulate what you want to the other party. This means both clear verbal and written communication.

If you can’t clearly tell the other person what you want, how do you expect to get it? Have you ever worked through something with a vendor or someone else only to learn of a surprise right at the end that wasn’t talked about before? This is not what you would call clear communication. It’s essential to be able to share a coherent and logical vision with the person you are working with.

3. Active Listening

Let’s do a quick review of active listening. This is when you are completely focused on the speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information, and respond appropriately. This is a necessary ingredient to be able to negotiate successfully. You must be able to fully focus on the other person’s wants to completely understand them.

If you aren’t giving them your full attention, you may miss some major points or details. This leads to frustration down the road on both sides. Ensure you are employing your active listening skills when in arbitration mode.

4. Teamwork and Collaboration

To be able to get to a place of common ground and a win-win scenario, you have to have a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

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If you are only thinking about yourself and what you want without giving much care to what the other person is wanting, you are bound to wind up without a solution. The other person may get frustrated and give up if they see you are unwilling to meet them halfway or care little for what they want.

When you collaborate, you are working together to help each other get what is most important to you. The other upside to negotiating with a sense of teamwork and collaboration is that it helps create a sense of trust, which, in turn, helps provide positive energy for working to a successful conclusion.

5. Problem Solving

Problem-solving is another key negotiation skill. When you are working with the other person to get the deal done many times you’ll face new challenges along the way.

Maybe you want a new vendor to provide training on the software they are selling you but they say it’s going to cost an additional $20,000 to provide this service. If you don’t have the additional $20,000 in the budget to spend on the software but you feel the training is critical, how are you going to solve that problem?

From what I’ve seen, most vendors aren’t willing to provide additional services without getting paid for them. This is where problem-solving skills will help continue the discussions. You might suggest to the vendor that your company will also be looking to replace their financial software next year, and you’d be happy to ensure they get one of the first seats at the table when the time comes if they could perhaps lower the pricing on their training.

There’s a solution to most challenges, but it takes problem-solving skills to work through them effectively.

6. Decision-Making Ability

Finally, having strong decision-making ability will help you seal the deal when you get to a place where everyone feels like they are getting what works for them. Each step of the way you can cross off the list when you get what you are looking for and decide to move onto the next item. Then, once you have all of your must-have boxes checked and the other side feels good about things, it’s time to shake hands and sign on the dotted line. Powerful decision-making ability will help you get to the finish line together.

Conclusion

There you have it, 6 effective negotiation skills to master to lead a more fulfilling life. Once we realize that we negotiate in one form or another almost every day in every phase of our lives, we realize how critical a skill it is.

Possessing strong negotiation skills will help you in nearly every one of your relationships at both the workplace and in your personal life. If you feel your arbitration tools could use some sharpening, try some of the 6 effective negotiation skills to master that we’ve talked about.

More Tips to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Featured photo credit: Windows via unsplash.com

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