Negotiating With The Referee

Now that World Cup soccer fever is on the rise again (congratulations to the Socceroos on qualifying for the World Cup 2018) we can reflect on all those 'negotiations' players have with referees. Almost all of which will fail. This is despite the sometimes extended on-field dialogue and dramatic nonverbal pleading. The yellow or red card decision remained in place.

What lessons can negotiators draw from this? 

Consider some different examples.

You are about to negotiate with your boss about some change in workload, salary, position level or such like. Your boss makes a pronouncement against such changes - effectively raising a yellow or red flag. Where does that leave you?

You are worried about having to deal with a judge or jury and the consequences of a legal decision (red card). What opportunities are there to influence so the red card might be downgraded to yellow?

What do these scenarios have in common? Two key themes are:

  1. ‍the impact of publicly stated positions and
  2. ‍the timing of when you commence negotiating.

Start the Negotiation Process Early

Clearly it's too late when you are on the playing field and the referee has made the red card decision very publicly for all to see. Or is it? And it's probably too late to change the boss's mind once a public (yellow or red card) announcement has been made.

Experienced negotiators might pre-empt this by applying influencing techniques long before the formal negotiation.

Consider All Points of Pre-Negotiation Influence

Within the legal system, lawyers also try influencing possible red card consequences. For example, timing a case so it will come before a judge regarded as being more lenient, or rejecting jurors who do not match a certain preferred profile.

So what are the observations for negotiators?

If you want to avoid the yellow or red card, you must start the negotiation process early - and ensure that the other party does not make early public pronouncements of position.

Tips on Avoiding the Yellow / Red Card

  • Carefully plan when to start the negotiation process. Many fail to achieve success because they start this far too late.
  • Understand that the pre-negotiation time requires preparing the substance and preparing the process, and most importantly it also requires preparing the mindset of the other party.
  • Appreciate that the earlier you can do this, the better.
  • Develop your strategy in a way that makes it difficult for the other party to lock themselves into early public statements of position.

To discuss this article in more depth and explore developing your negotiation capabilities, please contact us via email or call +612 9299 9688.

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ENS International (ENSI) provides negotiation consulting and training services helping people and organizations think and act differently to achieve more. 

Negotiators gain the edge using proven ENSI influencing processes incorporating commercial psychology with a deep understanding of human behaviour. ENSI delivers through Consulting Services and In-House or Open Course training. 

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