By Marc Freeman
is a necessary part of life. Most of us don’t realize how often we
negotiate deals and relationships. While negotiation is an essential
skill, re-negotiating is far more tightly woven into the fabric of our
lives. Renegotiating is the art of altering, revising, or changing a
previously negotiated relationship. This relationship can be in the
form of any professional or personal contract or commitment involving
a written or oral promise.
If you have
ever missed a deadline and must explain why you were late, you now
have to renegotiate your previous commitment. How you renegotiate this
will be critical. Also, how often you tend to be late will be critical
in determining how you will approach this renegotiation.
what is renegotiation? It is basically reneging on a promise or
commitment. We often don’t think very highly of people who fail to
keep their promises or commitments.
it is possible to renegotiate with integrity. We can
renegotiate successfully and keep our reputation intact —
whether we’re the ones who must break a commitment, or the ones on
the receiving end of a broken commitment.
need to renegotiate a deal does not mean the original negotiation was
a failure. Most
deals probably won’t remain completely satisfactory for both
parties. And if the contract is a problem for one party, then it is a
problem for the other. Renegotiating is an ideal response in most
the renegotiation process can begin, we must admit that we are
reneging on a promise or agreement we’ve made. This starting point
will afford a valuable perspective on what we’re attempting to do
when renegotiating. We
shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking we are not
breaking or changing a promise or commitment. This is why the approach
is so critical.
ever try to “spin” this perspective. It won’t work, and it’s
not honest. Be clear about what you’re doing when you renegotiate,
and your position will be much more positively received. On the other
hand, don’t feel guilty that you can’t keep your promise: guilt is
a waste of time. Renegotiating is inevitable because things change.
Just understand renegotiating for what it is — an opportunity to
change a relationship or agreement that is no longer working.
the renegotiation process can be tricky, there are five principles
which will greatly increase the probability that all parties will walk
away from the table happy with the results:
Critical Path: Principle:
Follow the Critical Path to renegotiate properly.
Critical Path identifies four milestones:
The Common Ground (#1) is
when both parties have committed to renegotiating. You go to your
landlord because you need to break your lease because you lost
your job and you can’t afford the payments anymore. The landlord
agrees to think about a solution. Now you can move forward because
you have a Common Ground with the landlord.
landlord offers you a discount if you can give him some
assurances. Now you have created a Plausible Solution (#2).
The Comfort Zone (#3) involves
working out the details of the Plausible Solution: e.g., how much rent you can afford, versus how much is the landlord
willing to take off.
you’ve arrived at a Comfort Zone agreeable to both
parties, you must put it in writing. This written document, once
signed, is the Settlement (#4).
Deals and agreements often change dramatically during this
Secret of the Orange Ball: Principle:
Know who is in control of the Orange Ball, and how to get it back.
refer to the person in control as the one holding The Orange Ball. Someone has to be in control in order for the
renegotiation to move foreword. If you don’t know who has the
Orange Ball, it will be difficult to drive the renegotiation in
your direction. Using the above example, when you go to your landlord,
he controls the Orange Ball.
This is important because if you don’t control renegotiation
you can’t direct it in your direction.
next day, the landlord tells you he’s willing to let you change the
lease, but not break it. He’ll give you a break on the rent if you
give him some assurances. You explain to the landlord that you really
can’t afford much and would rather just move. The landlord asks you
how much you can afford. You tell him you can afford to half the
current rent. Now you’ve taken back
the Orange Ball.
suggests that he accept half rent for four months, and then you would
pay $200 extra each month until the discount is paid off. He has now
taken back the Orange Ball. You tell him you can’t afford an extra $200
per month, but you can handle an additional $50. You settle on an
additional $75 and then you ask for six months instead of four months.
The landlord agrees. You’ve controlled the Orange Ball and directed
the Refresh Button: Principle:
Never overreact or act impulsively — take a deep breath and listen.
Button techniques are used to get control of, and keep, the Orange
Listen — Listening is a skill, it shows respect,
and being silent and listening brings great knowledge.
Be Nice — Being nice doesn’t mean being
insipid or insincere. It means being pleasant and calm: showing
understanding for the other party’s point of view, and not
verbally attacking anyone.
Use Humor — If you can laugh together then you
can renegotiate almost anything. Humor is a great way to create an
easier and more productive relationship.
three techniques help set the manner in which you renegotiate.
They also set a tone for how you will behave and lead the
renegotiation to help both sides behave properly.
Transcend the Details: Principle:
Go beyond the details in order to stay on The
solution to any renegotiation usually does not lie in the details of
the transaction. It is important to not get bogged down in details
that don’t help create a settlement. Focusing on details that
don’t move the renegotiation forward will always impede the process.
Call in the Cavalry: Principle: Make sure you have the
right person renegotiating, at all times. If not, Call in the Cavalry.
is important not to renegotiate with your ego. Bringing in a third
party to renegotiate on your behalf can be critical to creating a
settlement. Creating a buffer between you and the other party can help
to provide a quicker settlement than trying to do everything yourself.
five principles are based on the fact that everyone
can learn to renegotiate successfully, and with integrity. In fact,
everyone must learn to
renegotiate with integrity. If we have to break our promises or
commitments, let’s learn to do it right. And let’s behave properly
— with insight, forethought, and compassion — when promises or
commitments to us are broken. It works both ways.
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