You can plan a negotiation to the T, being careful to consider your interests and options, investing time to understand the other party and their needs, even making sure you have a few back up plans ready to go should things not work out.
You can do all of these things, and more, only to have the entire negotiation go cattywampus because of a last minute phone call or a decision by the client to “explore a different direction.”
For instance, I had an entirely different post planned for this week. It’s a good post and I was excited about writing it; I had it all planned out and had set aside more time than I usually give myself to write it.
But then there was a Thing. And then Another Thing. And then Some More Things. I found myself well into Thursday evening with an outline, lots of notes and a mild panic attack.
I knew I couldn’t do what I’d originally planned, at least not as well as I wanted to do it, but I didn’t want to give up my streak of posting a new post every week. And so, on the advice and insight of someone I trust, I decided to lean into the problem.
Leaning into the problem means you accept the fact that things just got royally screwed up. You accept the fact that you cannot do what you spent so much time and energy planning to do. And instead of looking at that planning time as wasted, you use all that preparation to figure out how to change and still get what you want.
When you plan and plan for a negotiation and things change, it’s disappointing. But if you’ve prepared, really thought about what you want, you’re actually in a pretty great position. All that considering, figuring and hypothesizing has your brain primed for thinking about the problem from lots of different perspectives.
Here’s the secret: when facts change in a negotiation, the problem doesn’t change. The problem in all the negotiations you have and ever will have is the same: you want something and you don’t have it.
The thing you want and the reasons you don’t have it will change, but the very basics of your problem, that you want a thing and do not have it, will not change.
Those pesky unforeseen events, while frustrating, don’t fundamentally change your problem. If you remember that, it will be easier to lean into the problem and figure out how you can change your approach and still get what you want.
So I leaned and the result is this post. It’s not what I planned for, but it helps me meet my goal of posting a substantive, helpful post once a week. Not bad.
Come back next week when I’ll be talking about how to avoid conflicts with collaborators and how to effectively deal with the conflicts you can’t avoid, Things be damned!
Featured image by Sam and Ian via Flickr.com