The ball is now in your court, and you are expected to return the ball and, ideally, participate in an enjoyable back-and-forth rally which is exciting and engaging before bringing the rally to a conclusion with a final flourish.
The back and forth is where you build a relationship and develop an understanding of the other person, their strengths and weaknesses. Then, evaluate how you can use this information to add value, and gain an advantage for your side of the net.
Great sporting challenges are where both competitors emerge as heroes despite only having one winner on a particular occasion –
Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier
Barcelona v Madrid
Leinster v Munster
Dublin v Kerry
Navratilova v Billie Jean King
Graf v Navratilova
Federer v Nadal
Nicholas v Watson (duel in the sun)
Great sporting occasions often lead to long-time respect and friendship between individuals and teams.
The same is true of business situations where initially business rivalry often turns into relationships that generate mutual respect and sometimes business partnerships.
In a business situation like this, the outcome must be satisfactory to both sides, and each must feel they have emerged victorious.
Over my career, my competitors have often become people to whom I now refer business, and they, in return, support me. Sometimes the business situation results in successful outcomes, other times it does not.
Therefore, what is critical is to build relationships that will lead to success at some future date.