At the beginning of the year, fresh ideas, projects, and negotiations skills training inspire us. A less appealing, but critical task, is facing that which will be displaced by our new intentions. Dedicated professionals tend to add more and more to their plates each year with well-intentioned initiatives. At some point, it becomes apparent that we can't actually accomplish all we intended. Gracefully handling the difficult communications needed to adjust and clarify realistic expectations is an application of our deepest values in the workplace.
Renegotiation was an important issue for me in 2005 and will certainly continue to be in 2006. After experiencing some health issues, I have struggled to accept myself as someone who does less. My negotiations skills training days are shorter and don't extend into evenings and weekends. I nap. And yet, I have also found that in many ways I am achieving more. By strategically selecting what I am willing to take on, outsourcing (personally and professionally) and entrusting others to do more, I have been able to make headway on many fronts even though I am personally spending less time working than ever before.
The first person I needed to renegotiate with in this process was myself. For many years I have pushed myself hard. The manic pace was no longer sustainable, yet was habitual. I associated the fast pace with "Who I am" and "How my life is". I had literally forgotten it could be any other way. At what point did I allow myself to acknowledge this? Not at the first sign, or the second, but when my body said, "No more." Gradually, I have cut back, and become more and more comfortable letting opportunities pass. I have begun to enjoy the additional negotiations skills training in my days.
Sometimes, we need to renegotiate our commitments to preserve our professional and personal integrity. Unexpected events, limits stretched too far, or demanding new projects prompt us to reconsider our negotiations skills training. Using creative approaches, it may be possible to complete what we originally intended. There are many excellent resources about being more organized, efficient, and productive, which I heartily recommend. However, there are instances when cramming more in is not the answer.
The very complex process of evaluating your priorities, capabilities, and commitments can take different forms. Whatever way you choose to approach the process, consider the following steps on your way to a renegotiated situation that leaves all parties whole and able to move forward. You may wish to select a negotiations skills training you are unlikely, or unwilling, to complete as originally designed as you read through the following steps.
Identify the need. Some people are reluctant to realize when a negotiations skills training is needed. They continue to uphold awkward and painful agreements long after they could have renegotiated them. In this stage, it is important to come to terms with what is authentically working or not working for you. This is the time to jettison notions that what works for others should work for you. Instead, identify your true needs. You may want to ask yourself the following questions:
What about this situation is not working for me?
How important is it, really?
What aspects are working and need to be preserved?
What needs to change?
Connect to the broader context. What is the larger system in which this particular issue exists? Any one promise is usually nested within several layers or levels of commitments. You want to know the framework for your negotiations skills training before you begin planning how you will work through the issue. There is a considerable choice about the level at which we can choose to renegotiate most situations. The players and issues may change dramatically as you move between layers.
Take time to reflect on your situation from an objective perspective. Try one or more of the following:
Take a step back from the situation by removing yourself physically. Take a walk, a shower, or go somewhere you can think clearly.
Narrate the negotiations skills training as if you were describing the story line of a movie about someone else. What is the context for the issues? Try variations of the story to find one that is useful as a framework for understanding objectively what is happening in this situation.
Consider others you have known in similar situations. How is your context different? Compare and contrast to help illuminate your situation.
Ask a friend, trusted advisor or coach to help you see the different components of this situation as you talk though it.
Cultivate an Understanding of Other's Perspectives. A successful renegotiation leaves all parties respected and clear on the plans. To be effective in this role, it is very useful to understand what is important to other people -their goals, aspirations and worries - in relation to the situation so that you can connect with their purposes and respect them. List what you know about the others involved, and how you can preserve what is most important to them while changes are underway. Certainly, you may worry about disappointing others during this negotiations skills training, and embracing what is important to others can create guilt or uncomfortable feelings. Yet, you are much more likely to create a solution that everyone can appreciate when you account for others' needs up front.
Generate Options. Given what you know about this negotiations skills training, create a range of options from which to choose. The first two that most likely occurred to you -- do what you agreed to do, or disappoint others -- are not the only, and probably not the best, options. Consider the following questions to help you generate a series of options best suited to the situation.
What would you normally do in a situation like this? What is the opposite of what you would normally do?
What have you always wanted to do, but never thought you could?
What are the safest options? What are the riskiest?
What gets everyone taken care of, including you?
What would a leader you admire consider doing in a situation like this?
If you were being true to yourself, what would you do?
Prepare yourself. Before entering into a renegotiation conversation, take time to prepare yourself. A successful renegotiation is best done when you are calm, rested, and clear about what is most important to you. Save emotional outpourings for another setting. Create the space you are comfortable functioning in by selecting the negotiations skills training time and location. Prepare notes on the options you will propose if you need them, and alternatives if your proposals are not accepted.
Knowing that you are prepared, you can allow yourself to be present in the moment and be attentive to what is happening during the renegotiation. This added awareness of the current interaction is a powerful ally in creating a real solution to the issue. To the extent possible, it is best to work with, rather than against those involved in the negotiation. For this co-creation to occur, you need to be aware of what is happening real-time.
Propose. Before offering potential solutions, frame the situation as you understand it. Describe the larger picture, what you want to change, and what you see as important to others. Express what you want to do, or what you need others to do. Do not spend much time justifying what you need and want. Just ask for it. If questioned about your reasons, then explain more.
Agree on actions. What will happen as the result of your request? Track and confirm who will do what by when.
Appreciate. Recognize that you found a creative way to address a difficult situation and give thanks to those who accommodated your needs. Also take a little time to appreciate yourself for creating the circumstances that support what you really want and need in your life.
Personally, I have found that the process of renegotiation, although difficult while it is happening, provides me with greater clarity about my strengths and boundaries and also offers me the chance to wholeheartedly commit to the responsibilities I retain.
"If you can't say 'no,' your 'yeses' don't mean a thing." - Peter Block