March 12th, 2018

Going from Forming, to Storming, to Performing Relationships in Negotiations

When you form a new relationship through a negotiation everyone feels very good, but inevitably something comes up. Someone misses a deadline, quality was not what was anticipated, terms have been interpreted differently between the parties, or something else has happened to negatively impact the relationship. When something like this happens, the relationship can turn stormy. This commentary addresses how to bring the relationship back. There are three keys. These are: be empathetic, potentially change the participants, and consider reframing the issue.

Be Empathetic

We all make mistakes and things happen. Is it possible, the right decision might be to not make this that big of deal this time, but focusing on the problem, what can be done to provide feed forward to ensure what caused the issue, does not occur again. Be hard on the problem and be soft on the people.

Might it be possible that you need to renegotiate, price, terms, quantities or something else? Know more about the other party’s perspective may help with this analysis.

If the other party still wants to do business with you this in itself is a positive. Take that as a positive. Understand what motivated the other party and work to address interests going forward.

Change the Participants

As a mediator and a negotiator, I have often found simply being a new face to the process that is oriented towards truly listening to the participants and working with the parties offers a new dynamic. I have been in mediations with fortune 500 companies when I have asked up to the CEO of the company to be removed and to not override what the parties come up with in his absence if I was to continue with the mediation. The company decided to continue without the CEO. Why? Because anyone can become entrenched and have ownership of the issue meaning they are deaf to listening and working towards a solution and want to win at all costs. When that happens changing the participants or a participant can be critical.

Consider Reframing the Issue

We tend to focus more on avoiding a loss than making a gain. We also tend to judge something new negatively. Knowing this, how can we reframe the issue into a positive? That is, how can the issue be reframed into an opportunity? Good managers do this all the time with employees. Apply the same technique in the negotiation. The past is over. The present is what we need to focus on now and look to the future. What might the future look like?

With this as background, think about what has worked for you, network with others, talk to a mentor and consider given the facts of your situation, what might be a good course of action. A few ideas are presented here, but no two situations are alike. Think positively and initiate next steps creatively. In the end, sometimes the best decision is a parting of the ways, but if we accept that storms come up and then eventually do subside, perhaps you can find a way to work with the other party and have an even sunnier day in the future.

Want a Dynamic Speaker or Help?

Contact Mike Gregory to speak to your group or consult with you, and check out his website, books and helpful content on the right side of his About page. Michael Gregory, NSA, ASA, CVA, MBA and a Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court, is an international speaker that helps others resolve conflict, negotiate winning solutions and inspire leaders by emphasizing collaboration. Mike services clients business to IRS, business to business and within businesses. Mike may be contacted directly at and at (651) 633-5311.

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