Usually, when people think about tennis, they look at a tremendously powerful cardiovascular exercise. How can it not? When you are hitting that tennis ball, chasing after it, and maneuvering over your end of the tennis court, you engage many different physical activities.
Not only are you running, but you’re also pivoting, you’re jumping, you are lunging forward and backwards, your hand and eye coordination is engaged, there are a lot of things going on on a physical level. It’s fairly easy to get quite a bit of a workout playing tennis.
The best part to all of this is that you enter some sort of competitive zone. You’re just so focused on returning that ball the right way to your opponent that you pretty much block everything else out. If you’re looking for a great way to engage in physical discipline, as well as mental focus and activity, you really can’t go wrong with tennis.
With that said, the physical mechanics of tennis, as well as its mind power consequences are just the tip of the iceberg. Seriously. Tennis can teach you quite a lot about the human experience. One of the most powerful things you can learn playing tennis on a fairly regular basis is that it can teach you a thing or two about becoming a better negotiator.
Make no mistake about it, negotiations are a crucial part of your life. It may not seem like it, you might not think you’re much of a negotiator or you might not think that negotiations is that big of a deal, but there are no two ways about it.
If you want to get a better job, get paid more, get more raises, get more promotions, meet better people of the opposite sex, and so on down the line, you have to not only know the role of negotiation in your life, but you have to, at some level or another, master it.
Again, there is really no way around this because if you are a lousy or mediocre negotiator, chances are you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. We’re not just talking about financial money, but we’re also talking about money in the form of opportunities.
Most people don’t even bother with negotiation skills. They think that as long as they know what they want and as long as the other person is reasonable, the negotiations pretty much takes care of itself. This is a very common mistake that people make over and over again and it’s no surprise that people are simply settling.
They are settling for cents on the dollar. They’re settling for a life that is a pale shadow of the amazing life they could otherwise be living. If you’re really serious about taking your life to the next level and achieving the kind of success that you feel that you deserve, you need to become a better negotiator.
The good news is, by simply picking your tennis racket and hitting the tennis court on a regular basis, you can learn how to be a better negotiator. Here are the reasons why.
Seeming Strength and Failure are Not Self Fulfilling Prophecies
One of the first things that you learn about tennis is that the seemingly tremendous and often overpowering strength of your opponent doesn’t mean that you will lose. If you find yourself on a tennis court and you are up against Andre Agassi, it’s easy to feel intimidated. It’s easy to get taken in by the fact that this person has won tennis match after tennis match.
But despite the appearance of strength or the seeming certainty that you will lose, you can take some comfort from the fact that in tennis, perceptions do not have to be self fulfilling prophecies. That’s right. Just because somebody looks like they are unbeatable it doesn’t necessarily mean that will be the case because tennis really is not just a question of power against power, but it’s also a question of timing against power.
Instead of Trying to Overpower, Turn Their Strength Against Them
Tennis teaches tremendous lessons about negotiation because when you get on the negotiation table, it’s easy to be intimidated by the amount of money, power and resources the other side has. Just as you can easily get intimidated by an opponent that has a tremendous serve in tennis, it’s too easy to let your perceptions of your opponent’s capacities and capabilities get the better of you.
But just like with tennis, instead of trying to overpower that person by really stepping your serving game up, you can choose to instead turn their strength against them. This happens all the time with tennis. This also happens all the time in negotiations.
In Most Cases, Just Having an Answer or Counter is Enough to Stay in the Game
So how exactly do you deal with somebody who has an overpowering serve in tennis? You know exactly what I’m talking about. When they serve, it seems like you’re not going to hit the ball. It seems like the ball is going to come at you with such strength that even if you were to hit it, you would barely tap it or barely deflect it and it would end up hitting the net and that person would score.
Well, just like with tennis, by simply having an answer during negotiations or a counter offer is enough for you to stay in the game. Keep in mind that your answer or counter must be reasonable enough. You can’t just blurt out a random answer and expect to stay in the game. That’s not how it works. But if you have some sort of passable answer, that is enough.
In the same way, in tennis, if you are able to just hit the ball the back, regardless of how feeble, as long it gets over the net, you’re still in the game. This is really important to understand because if you were to focus on the speed, velocity and impact of that ball served at you by your opponent, it’s easy to get intimidated. It’s easy to feel that the game is over because regardless of what you answer, it’s not going to match his strength.
But that’s beside the point. You’re not trying to match the strength of your competitor. You’re not trying to match the offer of your opponent. Instead, you are just trying to come up with an answer.
Opportunities Appear in a Flash
In a fast paced set of tennis, opportunities come and go in mere seconds. When you’re negotiating with somebody and the other side is thinking out loud or is forced to think out loud because of your answer, you can get them to present opportunities.
The secret to this, of course, is to learn how to spot opportunities. These opportunities appear in a blink. It takes a few seconds of these opportunities to appear. What makes them particularly challenging is the fact that not only do they appear in a flash, they also disappear in mere seconds as well.
They’re like blinking stars. You have to first know what a star looks like. Second, you have to be ready when they blink in front of you. And third, you have to know what to do once they’re about to blink out.
The same applies to tennis. When you get a very strong serve and you hit it back, and then they return the ball, you are given an opportunity to hit the ball in such a way that they can’t get to it. But this happens very, very quickly. You have to be ready. You have to put in the right amount of effort at the right time, at the right angle, to make things happen.
The Harder You Work at Tapping, the Luckier You Get
One of the most powerful quotes that you could ever come across is the saying that “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” You have to understand that people who seem to get lucky by being at the right place at the right time aren’t really lucky at all. Why? Let’s face it, if all it took was to be at the right place at the right time, then everybody would be getting lucky. Everybody would be getting the best things in life. But you know that that is not true.
The reason why certain people find themselves at the right place at the right time doing the right things to produce the right results is because they know how to do the right things. This is why you need to work hard in identifying opportunities and acting in such a way as to maximize those opportunities.
Let me tell you, you can get all the opportunities in the world just like a lottery winner, but if you don’t know how to work with those opportunities, they’re not going to benefit you all that much. A lottery winner, if that person doesn’t know how to manage money, will soon be poor. Statistics actually prove this.
This is why it’s really important that when you play tennis, you have to work hard at maximizing your opportunities. You have to tap the ball over the net the right way so that your opponent either falls over himself or trips or simply cannot get to the ball. That’s how you score.
It doesn’t matter how strong the person is, it doesn’t matter how many resources or advantages the person is starting out, none of that matters. What matters is that you were able to negotiate all these small actions at the right time in the right way to produce the right results. That’s how you set yourself up for the big win.
Make no mistake about it, if you want to become a better negotiator, whether this is at work, at school, in your love life, or anywhere else, you might want to take a long, hard look at tennis. It can teach you a tremendous amount of lessons that can help you become a much better negotiator.