Monday, December 21, 2009

Negotiation is like poker, but don't be surprised if they call your bluff

This time of year we baseball fans are hoping our team will pick up someone good. I've been reading about two players in particular, Johhny Damon and Jason Bay.

Damon is (or was) the Yankees left fielder, whose swing is perfectly tailored for the stadium's short right field porch. Despite the fact that he can barely reach second base from the outfield, he was an important part of the championship team.

He's also 35 years old.

So his agent demands a three year contract for huge money. Finally, the Yanks sign someone else, and now Damon must be wondering where he'll end up. And no one is going to pay him the money he's demanding.

Same with Jason Bay of the Red Sox. A perfect situation for a right handed dead pull hitter, and his agent turns down a huge offer. The Red Sox sign someone else, and now Bay is a man who won't get to play with a great team in a great city.

Two things you can learn from this:

-If you have an agent, you'd better be absolutely sure the agent knows your true wishes. If you don't want your agent to play hardball, tell him.

-Management usually holds all the cards in a negotiation. If you won't sign, there are countless talented people out there who will.

I've been on both sides of negotiation. Sometimes, as a reporter or anchor, you can sense that you've gone as far as you can go. If you're gonna bluff, be prepared to have said bluff called. You could end up out in the street.

As a manager I once wanted to hire a really good anchor who was a very nice person. But the agent was so difficult to deal with I moved on. There were plenty of talented anchors out there.

Remember, in any negotiation, keep things civil. Don't ask for the moon, and ask politely for anything you're requesting. In this economy, you can't push too hard.

And always consider the consequences if you do.

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