Getting From “No.” How Raising A Child Is Like Negotiating A Lease Or Other Agreement.

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Here’s a tip for child raising, a subject far afield from Ruminations’ charter, but maybe not. Answer every one of your child’s requests with a firm, “no.” Then, resist her or his fervent pleas for relief. Then, gradually allow yourself to get worn down, and accede to most of the entreaties, but not in a way that your child can deduce your logic. Then, repeat that every day until your child grows up and moves away.

Does that sound familiar?

There are some benefits to this procedure. For one, you get to spend a lot of time with your child in ways that can become some form of “play.” You have winners and losers. The two of you share a challenging experience. The process takes a longer time than necessary to get to the result. Thus, you get to spend time, albeit not “quality” time, with your child, and vice versa. It can be entertaining because each of you, in the end, know what the result will be but for a few items. After all, you’ve played this game many times before.

So, how did those thoughts work their way into this week’s posting? How does this relate to what many of us do – negotiating leases and other agreements? To us, that’s a pretty simple question to answer. Isn’t it quite often that we engage in the same process to get our deals done?

The answer is, “yes.”

Come on now! We all know which provisions in our forms don’t survive negotiation no matter how many times we answer, “no.” All it takes is for some back and forth to shake loose the “real” deal. But, if we started with the “real” deal in the first place, there would be no game; there would be no “winner”; our negotiating relationship would be over much sooner. After all, it could take weeks or months to go through all of a lease’s provisions in a succession of: “I need this. No. But, I need this because. No. I won’t make the deal without this. No. Really, this doesn’t work and it won’t hurt you to give in. OK, yes.” Isn’t that the result – protracted, sometimes unpleasant negotiations that nearly always conclude with a lease or other kind of agreement anyway?

Look folks, not every issue is important. If you are going to let your daughter stay up an extra hour one night to finish a hobby project anyway, why not say “OK” in the first place? You see, if you save your “no’s” for the really important things, she’ll believe you when she hears it. If everything is a “no” until it becomes a “yes,” your negotiation with your daughter or with the prospective landlord or tenant can be a never ending process.

Is it really important that the liability insurance coverage requirement be five million dollars instead of two million dollars if you are going to say “yes” anyway? Why insist on keeping 100% of subletting “profits” if, eventually, you are going to agree to 50%?

Some things are much more important to a landlord than to its tenant. Sometimes it is the other way around. Keep that in mind.

Three days’ notice versus five days’ notice for non-payment – do you really care?

Payment due on the first of the month versus the tenth of the month? Really!

The tenant insists on a “non-standard” form of billing for operating expenses. Why say “no,” when you are already doing 50 formats for 50 different tenants.

Tenant representatives, you can certainly “let go” as well. There are plenty of items a particular landlord really needs that, on balance, don’t really matter that much to you. You and we could make a list.

Is there a reward to “not sweating the small stuff,” especially when it really isn’t important to you and is a lot more important to your daughter? Sure, let her stay up the extra hour without wasting half of that time thinking that your “no” is going to stick. If the prospective tenant, with a cumbersome bureaucracy, wants a second notice before you can start your “self-help cure,” just say “yes” at the outset. If the prospective landlord wants the same, just say “yes” at the outset. To some tenants or landlords, a “second notice” is important. The others won’t ask.

Now, if you don’t want the rent to start soon or if you don’t want to get open in the space soon, just keep doing what many of us do – say “no” over and over until you say “yes.” After all, isn’t it more rewarding to think we are in the business of “doing leases” instead of doing “leasing”? And, it creates a trusting, long lasting, and mutually respectful relationship. Oh, that’s facetious because it doesn’t. Even though Ruminations doesn’t know what it is, there must be some “reward.” After all, this style of “lease-raising” (or is that “child-raising”) is far, far too common.

Let’s all think about this before our knee jerks again and we utter: “no.”



  1. I find there is a lot of time wasted by negotiating the clauses as they come up instead of listening to all the issues of the ‘other’ side first then prioritizing how their side’s wishes/desires prioritize to Your wishes and desires. Okay, you can’t get a right of first refusal because it will potentially queer their sale, then give a right of first offer before it ever hits the market. Other side insists that options are undesireable, then instead of options every 5 years, to ten year options.

  2. Peter Granoff says

    I find that one of the most useful words, or rather questions, in negotating a lease (or any transactional document) is, “Why?” Why is this matter so important to you? Why do you want to delete my entire fire clause? This question usually gets the parties off the “yes/no” line of argument. You often get a rational answer to “Why …” That allows you to draft a response to the other side’s often specific concern, maybe with some qualifiers or conditions so that you can give something without surrendering everything. By encouraging rationality through “Why” and responding in a measured, rational (even if limited) way you may induce more cooperation and get the deal finished sooner rather than later.

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