Sick as a Parrot

Published: Feb 24 , 2012
Author: Tom Feinson

Back in the day and before agents rose to prominence, a footballer, having just made his debut for England, decided to ask his club manager for a pay rise. After all his stock was on the rise; surely other clubs, for example, would be interested in him?

The unnamed manager's response was unexpected.

"Well done son.  You've just achieved a miracle and played two games in one."

"What do you mean," replied the player?"

"You've just played your first game for England and last game for me."

Undeterred, the player continued to try and persuade his boss of the merits of a pay rise.

Eventually, the manager picked up a piece of paper, dramatically wrote "£450 per week" on it and passed to the player. The player looked disappointed and suggested that he was looking for a little more, explaining that he'd just made his debut for England etc., etc..

A new piece of paper was produced and this time the manager had written £400 per week".

"But that's less," spluttered the player.

"Aye, that it is and every time you repeat that England rubbish, I'll knock it down another £50.  If, on the other hand, you sign here and now, I'll put you back to £450 per week."

The moral of this tale?

Well, if you're a footballer get yourself an agent. Emotional attachment to the outcome may compromise your ability to read the situation. Anyone who has ever fallen in love with a house and bought it on impulse knows that.

For the negotiator though there is another valuable lesson, namely when to stop "persuading" and start "trading". Recognise that however well constructed, elegant and rational the argument sounds in your head, its impact may not be so powerful in practice - especially if you have misjudged the power balance.

The value of making a proposal is something that Scotwork believes is fundamental to the negotiating process. The best proposals are ones that have a chance of being accepted; you can only make those kinds of proposals after time has been spent testing assumptions and probing the other side's needs

Back to the story; the, by now panicking player, seemingly under the spell of the manager, leaned across the table and signed on the dotted line!

Tom Feinson


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