Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Art of Negotiation

This is your world and I am only paying rent in it. Like it or not, life is a giant negotiating trading room floor. As participants, we come into conflicts with others: family members, business partners, sales clerks, competitors, customers or “The MAN” daily. How we handle these encounters can determine not only whether we prosper but whether we can enjoy a full, pleasurable, satisfying life or find business success.
-Photo: Lil Mogul at the NYSE with Ashanti & Nefertiti Strong

Let's Make A Deal. Negotiation is a field of knowledge and endeavors that focuses on gaining the favor of people from whom we want things. It’s as simple as that. We want all sorts of things: prestige, freedom, money, justice, love, security, recognition and/or power. In the past, rewards presumably go to those possessing the greatest talent, dedication and education. But life has disillusioned those who hold the virtue and hard work will triumph in the end. The winners seem to be people who not only are competent but also have the ability to negotiate their way to get what they want.

I remember watching a Barbara Walters Special and she interviewed Sally Jesse Raphael. Barbara asked Sally, “What is the difference between you and Oprah, “and Sally replied, “Nothing; however, Oprah had better attorneys when negotiating her TV show deal. They had a line that included she would own her show.” After hearing that, I started researching the Art of Negotiation. I discovered, when David Robinson was signed to the San Antonio Spurs, he negotiated in his NBA contract that he would ALWAYS be the 2nd highest paid basketball player in the league. The mid to late 90’s basketball players were setting historical salaries. Getting what you want and understanding how to get it.

Negotiation is the use of information and power to affect behavior within a “web of tension.” If you think about this broad definition, you’ll realize that you, in fact, negotiate all the time both on your job and in your personal life. As entrepreneurs, we have to negotiate for survival. I call Sprint every month to extend my pay period to be able to collect invoices from clients; with vendors to pay them for services on 30 or 60 day terms and with bank managers to clear holds on checks or reverse bank fees for overdrawing the account.

To get to the Promised Land you have to negotiate your way through the wilderness. Stay in the Game Richard E. Pelzer Sr.

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