BARGAINING FOR ADVANTAGE by G Richard Shell. Penguin pounds 12.99
When I was first asked to review G Richard Shell's book Bargaining for Advantage I must admit I was more than a little apprehensive. Do we really need another 'Let me show you how we do things in America' type of book?
Well, what a pleasant surprise. Richard Shell has been able to explain the art of negotiation without getting lost in its deeper meaning or psychology. And all without patronising the reader.
Shell's style of storytelling is very thought-provoking, and his examples of situations where negotiation skills really count are impressive.
In one chilling passage Shell reproduces the transcript of a plane's black box device, which had recorded the conversation between a domineering captain and his co-pilot. The co-pilot is unable to assert his view that it would be too dangerous to take off. The result? A crash, with 69 out of the 74 people on board being killed, including the captain and co-pilot. The message? Deference to authority can be a big, even fatal mistake when entering a negotiation.
As I was reading the book I recognised a few of my own techniques, although of course I had never really considered them in the manner Shell has outlined them here. Shell summaries his views this way: 'Effective negotiation is, in my judgement, 10% technique and 90% attitude. To acquire the right attitude you need realism, intelligence and self-respect. Bargain smart. Remember that the key to success in negotiation is information. Don't go into a negotiation with the idea that a single one-size-fits-all strategy will get you through. Finally, take the high road. Without self-respect you will lose the will to succeed, as well as the respect of others. It requires hard work to maintain your integrity in bargaining but it is well worth it.'
Sounds good to me. And in the era of new technology and high speed electronic communication, that integrity is more important than ever. It could be lost at the click of a mouse.
I am constantly being asked for advice from people as to how they can be successful as a football agent. As I read through Shell's book I was beginning to think that I had found the answer. All I have to do in the future is recommend that they read Bargaining for Advantage. However, once I had finished the book I changed my mind on that last point: some things just shouldn't be shared with your competition.
Rachel Anderson is the UK's leading female football agent.