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To Be Fair

fairness integrity negotiation value Dec 14, 2022

To be fair, I don’t always enjoy talking pricing, dealing with contracts, navigating the negotiation, especially when I feel in my heart there’s some gamesmanship and manipulation at play…and the deal may not end up being fair.

Even when our hearts are in the right place, the scale can still easily become inadvertently imbalanced. At Game On, over our 25-year history, we’ve entered into agreements and accepted opportunities where, in retrospect, we may have gotten the better end of the bargain. It wasn’t purposeful, it was just the way things played out. We’ve also been in the position where we’ve given more in the exchange than was first budgeted. Again, it wasn’t in the original forecast, but certain factors, costs, unforeseen challenges, and extra demands surfaced that affected the deal. These are all natural occurrences when dealing with so many transactions with well-intended but imperfect people (all of us), who may have varying expectations and differing viewpoints on the definition of value.

With all that said, and taking these factors into consideration, how can we still do our best to ensure everyone involved in a negotiation feels valued and agree that the deal is as fair as possible for all involved? This is all so much easier said than done, which makes it even more imperative that business owners, leaders, coaches, educators, communicators, put time into addressing this topic, are honest about what’s working and what’s not, and share best practices that can help us all navigate the “negotiation” with value and integrity.

Acknowledging there is no perfect path to “fair”, below in bold are some important questions that have helped me get to as close to fair as possible, while safeguarding the negotiation, valuing the transaction for both parties, and most importantly, honoring the current relationship - and hopefully building trust for future opportunities - with our community, our teams, our consultants, our staff, and our clients.

If the negotiation is over a 5-foot string, and both parties are bringing equal value to the deal, are they each getting 2 1/2 feet of that string?

Are all parties truly getting the amount they expected, were promised, and deserve, given what they are all providing?

If the answer is truly yes, both parties should feel valued, will have built some trust along the way, and will remember the experience and how they were treated.

And hopefully, both parties will pay it forward on their next go around, wherever and whatever that may be.

Whatever your deal is…a high-stakes business negotiation, a meeting about an employee’s salary/raise, a conversation regarding an athlete’s playing time, or even a clear and firm explanation to a child about an appropriate bed-time, our goal as leaders, coaches, educators, communicators, is to be good stewards of our authority, keep our ego and pride in check, understand the relationship and power dynamics in play, take into account the best interests of others, and think about the long term impact of our “deal terms”.

So, here’s the deal: In the end, our goal should not be to be the most popular, the most likable, the most powerful, or the most intimidating in the negotiation. Our goal should be to do our best to be honest and equitable, while valuing our worth and the worth of others …to be fair.

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