Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was by all accounts a major factor in getting the NFL collective bargaining agreement signed earlier in October 2011. To do so, Kraft employed four key negotiation tactics to help the players and owners come to a “win-win” solution.

4 Negotiation Tactics to Overcome Impasse at the Negotiation Table

Negotiation Tactic #1) Establish relationships of trust.

According to The Boston Globe, Kraft worked hard to develop personal relationships with his counterparts, including offering DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, a ride on his private jet en route to meetings. As a result, when he spoke, the players were more willing to listen to what he had to say.


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Negotiation Tactic #2) Generate options for mutual gains.

Kraft encouraged owners and players to negotiate some of the more complex issues in smaller negotiating sessions, without lawyers present. This allowed negotiators to be more effective at finding mutually agreeable and beneficial solutions to some of the intractable points in the contract.

Negotiation Tactic #3) Convince your side to make concessions at key moments.

One of the key issues in the negotiations was the rookie wage system. Kraft played a key role in convincing the owners to make a concession on this point, so that the negotiations could move forward, and agreement could be reached.

Negotiation Tactic #4) Negotiate for the long term.

The NFL contract negotiations were successful, not only because an agreement was signed, but because both sides were able to walk away feeling good about the final deal. At the press conference announcing the deal, Jeff Saturday, a center for the Indianapolis Colts and a representative of the NFL Players Association, made special mention of Robert Kraft’s role in the negotiations. He also expressed gratitude to Myra Kraft, who passed away last week, for supporting her husband’s work on these negotiations, even as she was in her “weakest moment.” In the face of his personal loss, both players and owners were even more appreciative of Robert Kraft’s hard work on finding a winning solution for all involved.

The success of the NFL sports negotiations, and Robert Kraft’s vital role in that success, illustrates how negotiation strategies can be applied effectively within any industry or field. For more tips from sports negotiations, download our free report: Win-Win or Hardball: Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations.

Related Negotiation Skills Article: Negotiating for Continuous Improvement: Monitor and Assess Your Negotiation Skills – How to monitor, assess, and improve your negotiation skills using measures developed by negotiation research and tested at the bargaining table.

Don’t Let the Outside Voices Ruin the Dialogue Inside: Limiting the Impact of Outsiders on Your Negotiation – Limit the influence of outsiders at the negotiation table with the negotiation strategies presented in this article drawn from Negotiation Briefings.


Discover how to handle complicated, high-level business negotiations in this free report, Win-Win or Hardball? Learn Top Strategies from Sports Contract Negotiations, from Harvard Law School.

Originally posted in 2011.