When you first hit the Las Vegas Strip, the flashing lights and fast pace are overwhelming. With adrenaline coursing through your veins, you're ready to try it all. But if you're going to win, you need to take control and work on developing your poker face.
When new opportunities come along in business, you might feel just like you did on that trip to Vegas. But if you want to make the best decisions, you can't let the excitement get to you. If you get emotional, the logical part of your brain will shut down, and you'll be at the mercy of other people's agendas.
Here are four tips to help you weigh your options, stay calm, and show the other players that you're in control:
1. Don't reveal your hand.
The principle of least interest, a term coined by sociologist Willard Waller, states that the person who appears to have the least interest in a relationship holds all the cards when forming a business deal or partnership.
In negotiations, always keep your cards close to your chest. You'll maintain an advantage if you don't reveal how you feel about an opportunity right away.
2. Consider the stakes.
Avoid getting swept up in the excitement of the game. Consider the hand you've been dealt as a whole. Does it serve your long-term business needs? Do you have good rapport with the other party? Will you be able to maintain a productive relationship?
If all--or most--of your business goal boxes are checked, then you'll probably want to stay at the table.
3. Don't go all in--yet.
If it's your turn to bet, make sure you're confident in your hand before pushing all your chips into the pot. Before making any business decision, you should have all the information you need. Clarify the facts, gather input from advisors you trust, and straighten out any inconsistencies in the agreement.
I once signed an agreement without first showing it to my lawyer. The other party wanted to close the deal quickly, so I signed because I didn't want to miss out on what seemed like a significant revenue opportunity. It turned out to be a move I later regretted making. I've learned the importance of slowing down and getting the crucial input I need before taking action, particularly when the stakes are high.
Do a gut check before diving into any big decision. The deal could look promising--and you may have a good relationship or good rapport with the other party--but you may need to wait until you get some advice from an expert or a trusted advisor. If you feel yourself being pressured one way or another, step back and give yourself some breathing room and space. Never let someone else push you into taking an action you're uncomfortable with or one that doesn't feel right to you for whatever reason.
4. Know when to fold.
There will be times when folding and walking away from a deal may be your wisest move. If you evaluate the opportunity in front of you and find that the terms don't work or the other parties involved are disingenuous, disrespectful, or otherwise unwilling to compromise and work with you to create a win-win, then it may be a sign to move on to the next opportunity.
Remember: Relationships are key, but business is business. Everyone is sitting at the table to make money. While giving in to the excitement and throwing down chips may be fun, making bad bets can cost you in the long run. The only way to come out on top is to pay attention to what's on the table, bide your time, and play smart.