Negotiation is an essential skill in navigating the world of sports. Teams negotiate with players. Unions negotiate with management. Sports marketing, endorsements, stadia and arena deals, sports television -- they all involve negotiation. Virtually everyone who is employed negotiates their own compensation and benefits. The results of failed negotiation are everywhere: Countries go to war, people get divorced and in sports it leads to holdouts, strikes and lockouts, confrontation and failed deals.
I wrote "Winning With Integrity -- How To Get What You Want Without Losing Your Soul" some years ago in an attempt to help people with this process. Many fear the negotiation process. They may be unduly submissive in raising points and agree on a deal only to be immediately remorseful. Others approach negotiations so truculently and aggressively that deadlock occurs. Deadlock can be disastrous in the short time frame involved in sport. The following are some tips to help you craft a cooperative environment which will result in a win for both sides.
1) Align yourself with people who share your values. It is much easier to deal with people who believe in honesty and mutual benefit.
2) Learn all you can about the other party. Intense research allowing you to put yourself in the heart and mind of the other person and their pressures and goals.
3) Convince the other party that you have an option. Develop alternatives far in advance of the negotiation so you have leverage in the situation.
4) Set your limits before the negotiation begins. You need to prioritize what items are most critical and what you absolutely need to have to make a deal.
5) Establish a climate of cooperation, not conflict. Assure the other party that you are sensitive to their needs and are resolved to make this a win-win.
6) In the face of intimidation, show no fear. Bullies may talk louder and tougher, but you need to bleed yourself of all emotion so it is not personal.
7) Learn to listen. Ask probing questions to peel back the layer of the onion to reach deeper understanding of the other person's position. The real art is listening.
8) Be comfortable with silence. Do not feel the need to remedy the passage of time when you have said all that you have to say at a given point.
9) Avoid playing split-the-difference. An absurdly high or low offer not based on rationality or comparables should not be countered or it will result in an negative.
10) Emphasize your concessions. When you achieve a goal move on quickly when you concede make sure the impact is felt.
11) Never push a losing argument to the end. Don't lock in the other person. Change the subject and come back to it later with more compelling rationale.
12) Develop relationships, not conquests. In sports we do repetitive business with the same individuals, don't put them in a bad position by insisting on a one-sided deal or bragging. Win-win is the key to longevity.
-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @leighsteinberg.