Diplomacy, Football, and Negotiating

Friday Night Lights are shining again.  Petoskey Northmen have their second game of the season tonight after a knockout opener last week, winning 42-14 against Sault Ste. Marie.  There is something inspiring about sitting in the stands with thousands of other fans, rooting for high school kids as they play on Curtis Field for its final season.  And when you're a visitor at an away game, there's nothing better than hearing the smaller-populated, but no less passionate crowd on the bleachers cheer for the traveling team.  

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I was in the middle of helping buyers and sellers to agree on a substantial deal last week, and as I sat in the stands, I thought about how similar the negotation phase can be to a football game.   A football field is not the most logical setting for an illustration about negotiating - bear with me!  Buyers can feel like they make headway and gain additional "yards" in their offer in the form of concessions.  Sellers come back with a counter offer, usually modifying the buyer's contract.  Sometimes, deals come to terms wtih one side of the field celebrating and the other silently resigning to a perceived loss. 

“The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.” – Henry Boyle

But picture the following scenario in a football game: the runningback breaks free of the opposing team's defense and dashes six yards before being brought down with a just-in-time tackle.  What happens around the field?  Both sides are applauding - the offensive side for the runningback's progress; the defensive side for the fact that he was tackled before making it to first down.  Both sides realize everything has not gone completely in their favor, but both are satisfied with the play.  

This is a great metaphor for how an agent should approach the negotiation process.  If at all possible, I want buyers and sellers to agree to terms that satisfy both parties.  Instead of each side believing they conceded too much and "lost", I strive to help each party come away from the table feeling like they got the better end of the deal.  This is accomplished through honesty, diplomacy and clear communication with all involved.  As we roll back into football season, and as you cheer for your team of choice, remember the art of negotiation whenever you hear applause from both sides of the field.

Photo credit: G. Randall Goss, Petoskey News-Review

Bill Winslow

Bill Winslow

Associate Broker, Manager, CLHMS®
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