Let’s face it. Sometimes we make deals that we later wish we hadn’t made. Or, under the pressure of negotiation, we agree to a specific point in a deal to which we really didn’t want to agree. In hindsight, we often gain perspective on what we should have said or done to express our disagreement. Sound all too familiar? If this happens to you, keep in mind that it’s not too late to change things. You can try to re-negotiate.
A friend recently mentioned that he regretted agreeing to a stipulation in the agreement with his new employer and wished he had negotiated over that point. Here are a few tips for re-opening negotiation, based on my friend’s situation, i.e., an employee/employer situation. These tips can be tweaked to fit other situations, also.
1. To re-open the conversation, you could say something like, “I’ve given some thought to our agreement, Joe, and I’d like to go over a few points again. I really enjoy working here, so it’s important for me to understand your position. When would you have a few minutes to meet with me?”
2. When you meet with your boss, be sure to thank him/her for their time, and reiterate that you like your job. Adopt a problem-solving attitude and indicate that you’re sure that if you put your heads together, you’ll be able to come up with a solution.
3. Use standards to argue your case. For example, let’s say you disagree with the commission structure. The reason for your disagreement could be based on what similar companies are paying (the standards: fairness, competitive bids). Whenever possible, frame your points as questions, e.g., “Other firms in town are paying 5% commission. I know you want to have the best talent; that’s why I came to work here. Can you help me understand how you arrived at 4%?” Now you’ve asked the other party to explain their standards!
If relevant, you might also craft an argument about what you need to earn to pay your bills. Though that’s your problem, it can become your employer’s problem if you quit because you can’t make ends meet (standard: your quality of life). “It’s important for me to be able to maintain my existing quality of life. It affects my self-esteem, as well as my discretionary income to network regularly.” Self-esteem and networking will help you sell more, so this might have an impact on your employer; it’s the so-called WIIFM. Follow that with a question such as, “How do you think we could resolve this?” Perhaps your boss agrees to a monthly expense allowance for networking/ social expenses. Help him/her along by throwing in some of your ideas. You’re not trying to get the job anymore, you’re just working together to solve a problem.
4. Your goal is to find a solution that works for both of you. In this case, perhaps you can negotiate a sliding commission scale, benchmarks for you to meet in order to get a higher commission rate, an equivalent year-end-bonus, a car or gas allowance or a networking allowance. Be creative!
So, if you’ve made any deals lately that you’re not happy with, go forth and re-negotiate. You’ll be glad you did!