Why Changing Your Mind During A Negotiation Is A Bad Thing

During a negotiation, a forced revision is never a good thing
During a negotiation, a forced revision is never a good thing
Image Credit: Vic

In this world in which we all live, it turns out that pretty much nothing is ever set in stone. In a negotiation, we tend to forget this basic fact. We work with the other side to find agreement on the individual issues that make up that which is being negotiated. Once an agreement on an issue has been reached, both of us consider it to be settled and we move on. However, sometimes we change our mind and that’s when things can get very, very tricky…

What Is A Forced Revision?

It turns out that in the field of negotiating we’ve come up with a name for when we go back on our word: we call it a forced revision. To put it as simply as possible, a forced revision occurs when one side of a negotiation goes back and decides to change an agreement that both sides have already created and put aside.

Using a forced revision is a powerful tactic. Doing this during a negotiation is going to going to upset the other side. If you’ve been able to build any sense of comradely between you and the other side, this will effectively destroy it. When you pull a forced revision, you are effectively making a one-way demand of the other side of the table. Clearly, they are not going to be happy about this!

An important point to clarify here is that we’re not talking about making changes to a contract that has already been signed. In negotiating terms, before the contract is signed, we can consider that everything is still on the table. This means that you should feel free to keep negotiating any part of the deal if you have to.

The Ethical And Legal Issues That Forced Revisions Cause

Yes, executing a forced revision is going to make the other side angry with you. However, assuming that both sides have not signed a contract, there is really nothing unethical to request that the other side once again negotiate an issue that they thought had been resolved. Changing a deal that has already been signed is very different from a forced revision.

Because of the power of a forced revision, we need to make sure that we understand when it can (and cannot be used) . One of the best uses of it occurs when you know that the other side of the table is completely committed to the deal that is being negotiated (they’ve purchased land, picked a launch date, or already sent out press releases). When this has happened, they have no other viable alternative action that they can take – there is a very good chance that a forced revision will work in this situation.

If the other side attempts to use a forced revision on you, you are going to have to make some hard choices. You’ll be deciding between either going along with what they are demanding from you or taking them to court over it. In this situation, there are no other options.

What All Of This Means For You

I’d like to be able to tell you that in your next principled negotiation, if you can reach an agreement with the other side on one of the issues in the negotiation, then you’ll be able to move on and not worry about that issue anymore. Unfortunately, this is not true. Either side can use a forced revision and if they do, then that issue will once again be in play.

A forced revision occurs when one side changes their mind on some issue that has already been resolved. There really is no ethical issue here – as long as a contract has not been signed, then all issues are still up for negotiation. As a negotiator you need to realize that even though using a forced revision will anger the other side, it is a tool that you have. The more committed the other side is to reaching a deal with you, the likely it is that by using a forced revision you’ll get what you want.

As with all powerful negotiating tools such as negotiation styles and negotiating techniques, a forced revision must be used with care and caution. By using it you are going to anger the other side of the table and this ill-will will probably last long beyond this negotiation. However, the power of a forced revision is that you don’t have to settle for a deal that does not meet your needs. Be careful with this one!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Can you think of any way to soften the blow of using a forced revision in a negotiation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

p>When was the last time that you met a bully? I’d be willing that there is a good chance that you were in a negotiation when this happened. For some odd reason, the field of negotiating, that delicate science of finding a deal that works for both sides, attracts more than its fair share of people who like to intimidate other people. You are going to run into them, what should you do when this happens?