Poker Face – A Strategy
An impassive expression that hides one’s true feelings.
My introduction to this concept was in my early childhood. One of my favorite book and movie is ‘The Godfather’ written by Mario Puzo. I was fascinated with it, enthralled by dialogues such as ‘It’s not personal; it’s just business’, mimicking them in my not so great Italian ascent. But the most important thing I took away from the movie is how not to negotiate. They show that sunny (godfathers firstborn) showed his interest in a drug deal which the Godfather refused; which resulted in godfather being shot. This is what I took away from the movie. In Business whether it’s your colleague, boss, client or vendor they should never know your thoughts. You should be impassive at all times, this is absolutely critical during times of negotiations. If the opposing party can determine high level of interest, the price if not going up will at least not budge from the current price.
We cannot discuss poker face as a strategy without discussing poker. If godfather introduced me to this concept, poker developed it. Poker is different from the other gambling games i.e. you do not play against the house, you play against each other. The best way to describe poker is you don’t play the odds, you play the man. The biggest test in poker is your
opponents should not be able to read your thoughts & game. Bluffing in poker and catching a bluff in poker is a tremendous negotiation skill to have. It requires two things – acute observation and absolute control on one’s expression. This is one art which all the negotiators need to master.
The corollary to having a poker face is being observant to others, deciphering their motives through their expressions & behavior. Reading people is an art which helps you not only in business but in all aspects of life. The observation prowess helps you go into detailing of each aspect of your business. You need not be the most brilliant person in order to be the best communicator. You can have a more successful meeting by changing the agenda of the meeting by seeing the client’s reaction.
Poker face & observation are like yin & yang, they are incomplete without each other. You can pickup, develop and hone these skills not only in the business world but also by doing things you like i.e. playing poker, reading books and watching movies!!
For me this is the single most important quality I would look in the person whom I appoint to negotiate on my behalf. What about you?
Contributed by guest author Shreyam Shah, CEO Tee Venture (India) Private Limited.