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Relationships are Essential in Negotiations – Lessons from Nike and Jordan

Nike had less money to offer Michael Jordan when they first signed him in 1984. However, they had what Adidas and Converse didn’t have, they had heart and an emotional connection to his mom. This was portrayed in “Air” the movie. Michael Jordan’s mother was an important influencer in their family’s decision to sign with Nike. In business it’s often not the MONEY that makes or breaks a deal, it’s the intangibles that we often overlook. What does the client or customer REALLY want? What does the employee really want? Alexandra Carter in her book “Ask for More” touches on these key principles. To be successful at negotiation know what YOU want and what the other person wants.

What Do You and They Want?

The first thing to learn in a negotiation is to know what you want and what the other person wants. It’s not just about the numbers but also about your personal values and interests. For Nike, it was about acquiring a player who was a perfect fit for the brand’s image and values. For Jordan’s mom it was about how will you make my son be seen and feel special

Ask for More

Another key point to remember in business negotiations is to not be afraid to ask for more. Negotiations can be about compromise, but they should never be about settling. If you don’t ask for what you really want, you’ll never know if it’s possible to achieve. Jordan could have gone with Adidas or Converse, but Nike stepped up and offered him something better. Always aim high and have faith in your interests.

Relationships Matter

Additionally, building a good relationship with the other person can make a huge impact. In this case, Nike’s approach to building a relationship with Jordan’s mother showed that they were serious about signing Jordan. It also showed that they cared about Jordan’s family and values, which made it easier for them to connect with him emotionally. If you have an opportunity to build a relationship with the person you’re negotiating with, take it and show them that you’re invested in their interests as well.

Important Variables

Another key principle to remember in negotiations is to understand the most important variables to both parties. For Jordan, it wasn’t just about the money but about the values and mission of the brand. Nike understood that and offered Jordan something unique that no other brand could offer, an emotional connection. Always try to understand what is driving the other person and what is most important to them. This can give you a competitive edge in negotiations. Nike’s lead agent Sonny also who the importance of family bonding, to the Jordan family.

Money may be important in negotiations, but it’s not everything. Understanding what the other person really wants and their values can make a big difference in the outcome of a negotiation. Nike’s signing of Michael Jordan in 1984 is a great example of this. Alexandra Carter’s book “Ask for More” is another great resource for learning about the power of emotional connection in business negotiations. Keep in mind that personal values, relationships, and understanding what is most important to both parties can be game-changers. Always be confident in what you want, aim high, and don’t be afraid to ask for more.

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