Games and business have more in common than the unobservant may think. After all, games, which occur naturally among denizens of the animal kingdom, occupy a vital evolutionary role that relates to preparing us, through rehearsal, to face consequential challenges.

While there’s naturally a large gulf between a lamb frolicking, and a grandmaster playing a game of chess, there remains a shared principle that is actively honed and can be used elsewhere.

For the lamb, that may look like play preparing them to successfully escape from a predator – whereas in our modern world, the high stakes showdowns we experience in games can often prepare us for the rigors of business.

Below we’re going to take a look at some key ways these two pursuits are alike, as well as exploring what lessons can be drawn out of this relationship to make a person better at both.

Knowing The Details is Essential to Success

One of the key factors that both games and business share is in recognizing the importance of understanding the details and nuance of the game’s rules, or business sector, you’re operating within.

Without a clear understanding of the parameters in which you are to act, there’s little chance of success in either venture. This is as applicable to knowing the legislative scope in a contract agreement as it is to understanding the strategic distinctions inherent between no hole card blackjack and the standard hole card variant.

When people tout the maxim that “knowledge is power” – in a very simple sense, this is what is meant. You won’t find a chess player at the top of their game who doesn’t know the nuances of different gambits, nor will you find a market leading organization with a poor understanding of their target demographic.

Seizing The Initiative Lets You Dictate The Pace

While it’s not always true that a good offence is the best defense, in both games and business it can lend you a vital advantage that gives you greater room to maneuver down the line. This is because being up-front with what you want, and stating your demands, be it in a business negotiation, or expressed through a play-style, enables you to dictate the pace of how events will unfold.

While a skilled player or professional will typically be able to manage this type of strategy, one with less experience or confidence can be put on the back foot by it. This can result in you making greater in-roads in acquiring your desired outcomes in a negotiation.

Likewise, in a game it can often result in your opponent putting themselves at a disadvantage through panicking to react to you.

Having a keen appreciation for this method can pay dividends in both pursuits, as you can hone your understanding of when it may be fruitful to utilize this tactic, as well as reduce the risk of falling foul of it yourself.

Many Hands Make Light Work

While many of the elements we’ve discussed here already have explored the ways in which both business and gaming share a certain adversarial streak, focusing solely on this side of their relationship will obscure another vital link between the two.

That link is rooted in cooperation and collaboration – many games require these virtues in order to succeed, from team games, to games where the goal is rooted in a mutual aim rather than of merely defeating the other player.

The same can be said for business – while there are times and places where driving a hard bargain and advocating for your needs is vital, it’s important to remember that in most cases the end-goal of a business negotiation is to enter into a mutually-beneficial partnership with your interlocutors.

To achieve this in a sustainable way, one needs to develop keen diplomatic skills and to cultivate the ability to empathize with the other side. In looking at a business deal from the perspective of your opposite number, you will be better able to recognize points of mutual benefit and agreement between you both, facilitating a satisfactory deal.

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