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    iStock-866149824Negotiation is a fact of life in business and will also likely play a key role in your career trajectory. Bargaining with counterparties to get a better deal for yourself or your organisation is a critical skill and important to nurture if you are to maximise opportunities and get the the best outcomes - in business and your own career path.

    First let's understand the difference between negotiation and bargaining. Bargaining is a discussion about what the other side wants.  Negotiation is a discussion about why they want it.  You cannot fully engage the other side in a discussion about what they want until you understand why they want it. So while they are intrinsically linked, negotiation is the enabler of the process. 

    A reluctance to enter into what is seen as a confrontational situation means that many avoid negotiation and are therefore missing out on potential gains to be made.

    Effective negotiation is not an easy process. For many professionals it is not a skill that comes naturally – it has to be learned and tailored over time. A reluctance to enter into what is seen as a confrontational situation means that many avoid negotiation and are therefore missing out on potential gains to be made.

    Negotiation scenarios include partner and sponsorship agreements, many start-up situations, salary and promotion discussions, product development planning and countless others. In fact, it is arguable that situations involving bargaining are more varied and diverse for sporting organisations than they are even for traditional businesses. Here are a some 

    So what advice can help you when entering such a situation? What can help make the process easier for you, as well as the counterparty sitting across the table? Here are some key negotiation skills to help you get the outcome you want. 

    Be an active listener

    This may seem like an obvious one but being a good listener is extremely important during the negotiating process. A good negotiator knows not only what the other person wants from a factual point of view, but also how they feel about different elements of the potential bargain. Knowing what the other person wants and sensing where and how they may be willing to make concessions is vital in any successful bargaining process. A good way to demonstrate  your 'listening skills' is to recall statements made by the other side and mention them as close to as they were spoken. 

    Demonstrate empathy

    Simply knowing how the other person feels about their own position is not everything. It helps if you can also show empathy with your counterparty. By demonstrating a level of understanding with the person across the table, they will become more comfortable in dealing with you. They may be more willing to make a compromise as a result. Simple ways to demonstrate empathy in bargaining situations is to avoid talking about your own position but instead discussing theirs, to be an active listener as outlined above and to genuinely try to put yourself in the shoes of the other individual.

    Highlight your concessions

    Almost every negotiation will involve some element of compromise. You are likely to have to concede ground on certain conditions, otherwise it wouldn’t be a negotiation at all. You need to make it very clear when you are giving up something in pursuit of agreement. This will set a marker and will automatically appeal to the counterparty’s socially-wired tendency to reciprocate.

    Segregate your concessions

    Your concessions will be like mini-wins for the counterparty. By you giving up something, they are gaining something. The human brain automatically responds more to a series of small wins than from one big win. As a result, it helps to divide up your concessions and spread them out over the negotiation and bargaining process. By segregating concessions throughout the process, you will increase the chances of the counterparty reciprocating on the other areas you are looking to make inroads into.


    If you don’t feel the need for negotiation in your work or career planning, you are probably missing the 'real' opportunities. Adding these tips to your negotiations will help give you confidence to approach scenarios with a view of achieving your desired outcome and ultimately success. 

    Find more great articles to prepare for your new role in sport on our Prepare: Knowledge Hub

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