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4. Finding a Comfort Zone
In order to create a settlement you must identify those issues that both parties can agree on. The solution lies in the common ground you will establish and the settlement will ultimately come from this comfort zone.
5. Know When to Bring in a Third Party to Represent You
Many times it is better to allow someone else to renegotiate on your behalf. Find the right individual to represent you. Besides obvious qualifications, you need a person who is not attached to the issues, the history, or the outcome.
Life is about intentions. I know that life is more than this, but for the purposes of this article, life is about intentions and communicating those intentions. What sets us apart from other species is that we have free will. Humankind has expanded free will to include what I like to call the great spin. We have seen that anything can be justified, from theft to war. Why do people try to justify their worst actions? Is it to make us look good in the eyes of others? No, it's to make us look good in our own eyes. No one wants to think that he or she is a bad person. We feel that our intentions are good, and if our actions are not good, we at least need them to be ‘justified’ by circumstances. Therefore, in order to keep your integrity, have your intensions straight and clear. Remember that renegotiating is not about right and wrong or good or bad. It is about change.
When we first enter into a renegotiation there are two main points to consider. The first is that there is a history. History is the difference between negotiating and renegotiating. In negotiating, there can be some history, but mostly you are creating it. At some time during the renegotiation process you will have to understand what the history is between the two parties. The second point is that you may not know whether or not the individual you will be dealing with will be happy, crazy, angry, or just not want to deal with you or the issue. How do you prepare for this, how do you prepare your client? Finally, how do you prepare the person you are going to renegotiate with?
To say that anything works one hundred percent of the time is just not true, but there are several techniques that do work nine times out of ten, and nine out of ten isn't bad.
Push the Refresh Button: creating a solution to the issues at hand may have nothing to do with history, but most people on both sides need to discuss it – how they got to this point, how the problem was created. This frequently leads to finger pointing, yet in the proper context it is not necessarily a waste of time. When a third party is doing the renegotiating it makes the process of venting smoother and less damaging. You never want to allow venting to do damage to the relationship, but I have to tell you that people do need an opportunity to vent. It may be a necessary part of disposing with the history.
So as the renegotiator, what do you do? Listen, and listen, and usually listen again. It's interesting to hear both sides. The facts are the same but the perception is frequently different. In order to get both sides to begin to focus on the solution so they can arrive at a settlement, you need them both to Push the Refresh Button. Listening to them allows them to vent, but then you must move beyond the history. Knowing it is fine, but to in any way focus on it or belabor it gets no one anywhere.
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Copyright © 2003, Marc Freeman
Copyright © 2003, The Negotiator Magazine