January 20, 2019

Feeling lucky?

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On a recent trip abroad I read an article in an in-flight magazine about how luck is valued in business. Many successful individuals have had (good) luck – whether a chance meeting, being in the right place at the right time, or a connection who can help them take advantage of a situation – play a large part in their success.

English: Four coloured 6 sided dice arranged i...

By Diacritica (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Can we rely on luck? Certainly not. But luck can’t be ignored as a factor in business success.

Can it also play a part in negotiation?

There are certainly many stories of success in negotiation that are not replicable because they were the result of luck. My favourite example is that of a businessman who made a career in negotiation out of a coincidence. He had been at an IBM conference before going to pick up a hire car later that day and accidentally let his conference badge, emblazoned with the IBM logo, slip out. Fortunately for him the rental company had a deal with IBM for a 20 per cent discount, and staff immediately reduced his bill.

However, his success was totally unreplicable for anyone without an IBM badge (the majority of the population). This was not a skill that could guarantee success: it was pure luck.

The same can be said for many negotiation ‘war stories’ that have a good ending. (You never hear about the ones that don’t have a happy outcome.) In negotiation you can get lucky, people will make mistakes, and ploys and tricks can bring a quick gain, but these things cannot be relied upon.

So be lucky, by all means, but it’s better to be prepared.





Florence Kennedy Rolland, Lead Tutor About Florence Kennedy Rolland, Lead Tutor

Managing Director of Negotiate Ltd & Approved Tutor and examiner for the Negotiation elective.