On a recent trip abroad I read an article in an airline business magazine about how luck was being valued in business. Many successful individuals can be shown to have (good) luck play a large part in their success. Be that a chance meeting, being in the right place at the right time or having connections that helped them learn or take advantage of a situation.

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

Can the same be said of negotiation?

There are certainly many stories of success in negotiation that are not replicable as they relied on 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 and when picking up a hire car later that day happened to let slip his conference badge emblazed with the IBM logo. Fortunately for him the rental company had a deal with IBM for 20% off their rates, and immediately reduced his bill. His talk on how to get 20% off your car rental bill was very well presented, however totally unreplicable to the majority of people (who don’t happen to have an IBM badge).

It was not a skill that could guarantee you 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).   You can get lucky, people will make mistakes, ploys and tricks can bring a quick gain but they cannot be relied upon.

So be lucky by all means, but its better to be prepared.