TORONTO — Canada’s ambassador to Washington said Wednesday that Canada is open to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement if that’s what President-elect Donald Trump wants.

Read the full article from CBS News.

“Renegotiation” is a term that will most likely be used quite a bit in the next several months. Often, because of changing needs, political climates, or any other mitigating factor(s), it becomes necessary to revisit and possibly renegotiate established, long-term agreements. Obviously, this can cause tensions on both sides, but there are some things that can be done to alleviate the stress and anxiety that’s bound to come up.

First, be willing to walk out.

Walking out, or deliberately bringing the negotiation to a deadlock, doesn’t have to be the end. In fact, it can be an excellent way of getting a stalled negotiation started again. Remember, there’s a reason the other side is talking with you – a whole series of pressures that make up their “sheet.” If you’re spinning your wheels anyway – the negotiation is stalled and it looks as if nothing is going to happen, walk out. It’s imperative to do this in a friendly, businesslike manner, using something like, “John, it looks like we’re not going to be able to come to agreement”, extending your hand (which they’ll always take), and then heading for the door. There’s a very good possibility that they’ll call you back before you reach the door – or within a few days. But remember, you’re walking out of the deal not to END it, but to get it STARTED again. If they don’t call you back, the responsibility is on you to go back in and get the discussion started again (by finding common ground on a personal level, offering new information, changing the negotiator, offering some sort of collaborative deal, etc.).

Secondly, don’t be ridiculous.

While it’s important to leave yourself room to negotiate and aim high, a position that is radically different from the existing deal is going to be an extremely hard sell. Understanding the market forces and at least being “in the ballpark” makes a lot of sense. If you don’t do this, the other side might get the impression that you’re merely being frivolous, and therefore have little incentive to continue negotiating with you.

Closely tied with not being ridiculous is to have a good reason for the renegotiation.

A good rule-of-thumb is “if you have a good reason, you’re not being ridiculous.” One of the most important parts of the planning process (if not THE most important part) is to figure out how much room to leave yourself, and then think of some good reasons to justify your position.

Finally, stay calm; don’t react to “oratorical fireworks”

Often, when a long-standing agreement is up for a discussion on how to be altered, there may be frustration, and even anger. The last thing you want to do is get involved in some sort of emotional battle.

Ann Douglas, a professor at Columbia University, did a study on labor relations in New York City. She observed a union negotiator pounding his fist on the table, bombastically ranting about the mistreatment of his workers. Later, when asked why he was so emotional, the representative calmly said that he did it, not for the benefit of the person with whom he was dealing, but the people in the union, itself. “They’ve got all these crazy demands that I’d never be able to get in 100 years. (The people in the union) will always forgive me for not getting everything they want, but they would never forgive me for not asking for everything they want. The least I can do is state their demands. That’s what they pay me for.”

The same thing is true with people on the other side of the table. Their organizations may forgive them for not being able to maintain the status quo, but they might not forgive them quite so easily for not trying to.

Want to up your negotiation game? Check out this 30-minute webinar – Introduction to Negotiation Mastery.