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6 Key negotiation insights through the eyes of a marathon runner

Apostolos Korlos
© Izf | Shutterstock

Finishing a Marathon is a life’s dream for a runner. Thousands of amateur athletes live for the moment of crossing the finishing line of one of the hundreds of marathons organized around the world.
The marathon, like any other demanding competition, requires serious and long-term preparation and specialized assistance from experts. Below are some of the most useful tips to finish a marathon and how these can help a negotiator in his work.


  1. "Know your route. Find out every kilometre, every hill, every downhill "

Take time to get to know the task at hand. Before you enter the negotiation room, do your homework. Get as much information about their objectives and the negotiators themselves as possible. Prepare exploratory questions. Encourage them to talk about themselves, their company and listen to them carefully. People tend to talk when they find a willing audience. Take advantage of it and learn as much as you can about them and their needs. This will give you a significant advantage when the time comes.


  1. "Mind the equipment. Comfortable shoes and socks, clothes that you are sure do not cause irritations, headphones and MP3s for the monotonous route "

Know and take advantage of the equipment in the negotiating room.
Controlling a flip chart or a projector may prove to be a key enabler and will help you set the agenda and the pace of the discussion.
If you have the option, choose your seat. The head of the table could give you a significant advantage.


  1. “42,195 meters is a huge distance. Divide the track into pieces. Psychologically it will give you the strength to endure”

Have you set realistic goals? Have you defined the meaning of "success”?
Fine! Now cut them down into smaller pieces. You will not succeed at once. Victory will come through small successful steps.
Specify what you want to achieve at each meeting or in each round of the negotiation process. Final success will come through partial victories.
If your proposal includes many topics, it is certain that the other side will be confused and your "heavyweight" proposal is likely to be rejected. Consider topics one by one. Summarize often to confirm the progress that has been made and move on to the next item.


  1. "Practice on the marathon route and if this is not feasible, imitate it. Find workout areas that resemble the route, or practice on a treadmill where you can easily set the incline "

Make the running of practice sessions part of your preparation. Work with your team and (even better) an expert advisor that can help you simulate the upcoming negotiation. Go through different scenarios and practice your questions, proposals, recaps and closing efforts. Moreover, remember that rehearsing an opening statement is time well spent and will help you put the process on your tracks.


  1. "Beware of the euphoria of the last kilometres. People gathered, will shout your name and you will get excited. Do not stray away from your plan. Your body is already exhausted. Run to the finishing line with caution. Do not risk a last-minute injury "

You spent a lot of time preparing and negotiating. You are in the last meters before the finishing line. The deal is so close. Do not be enthusiastic. Watch out!
Traps are lurking ...
Avoid Closing Concessions, no matter how hard they are pushed. If you do so, make sure that they are specific, small and conditional upon agreement. Maybe what they ask you does not cost you too much. But you do not want to steer greed in them.
Don’t get greedy yourself. Did you achieve your goals? Close the deal and leave the table in a proper fashion.


  1. "A Marathon requires at least 4 months of preparation. Many hours and kilometres of training and great attention to nutrition »

Structured Preparation is the most important weapon at your disposal.
If feasible, do not go alone. Take with you some of your co-workers and/or associates.  Explain what you expect from them. Designate tasks. Choose who will be listening carefully to the other side, who will summarize, who will ask the pre-prepared questions etc.
Set realistic goals, discuss a list of possible concessions and prepare your wish list.
Never skip preparation. Even if you are invited to an out of schedule meeting, find a few minutes and devote them to a crash preparation. Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you are sure to be joining the meeting under much better conditions than those you would have to endure if you were completely unprepared.

Apostolos Korlos
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