Playing hardball, with YouTube

Toughen up your negotiations, with the Godfather, Star Wars and Team America.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

In the week that North Korea showed that it isn't afraid to play hardball against the combined might of the world's biggest military powers, how can business leaders learn to take no prisoners at the negotiating table?

Have something up your sleeve. Difficult negotiations become much easier when you know you’re packing a secret weapon. When Star Wars’ Hans Solo is cornered by Greedo over money he owes Jabba the Hut, he looks set to come out worse off. But an astute reading of his opponent, plus the gun he has under the table, helps him get out alive. Just swap the gun for a more metaphorical weapon.

Put some work in before the negotiation. If you conduct all your business properly, the reputation you bring to the table will help you argue for better terms. Take this clip from the Godfather: such is Don Corleone’s reputation that a previously stubborn landlord having discovered who he's dealing with, now sweats himself into dropping his prices. The Don doesn’t even need to open his mouth, save to offer him a coffee.

Change your game. And speaking of North Korea... As this clip from Team America shows, when you’re up against a tough customer, you sometimes have to ditch your natural approach for something harder. The hapless Hans Blix tries to bully Kim Jong Il, but his threats – to ‘write you a letter telling you how angry we are’ – are woolly to say the least. Blix soon winds up as fish food in a grim finale (and a linguistically ripe one - those of delicate sensibilities should steer clear).

In today's bulletin:

Nationwide reports signs of life in the housing market
Illegal downloads cost UK £120bn a year, says Government
Entrepreneur optimism: a thing of the past?
It's all the boss's fault, say stressed workers
Playing hardball, with YouTube

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