Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Negotiation Books (Updated)

In both my book and this blog my focus has been on helping build the knowledge you need to be a better negotiator. I’ve done that because I felt that most of the books and training that I’ve seen focus mostly on negotiation tactics or negotiation strategies. In this post I wanted to share my thoughts on how to wade through the many books available and provide some suggestions.

Since there is negotiation in almost every aspect of life, there are a huge number of books on negotiation. Most materials on negotiations fall into one of seven categories:
1. Tactics
2. Theory
3. Problem Solving
4. Sub-aspects of the Negotiation Process
5. The Buyer’s approach to negotiation
6. The Salesperson approach to negotiation
7. Books that focus on a specific type of negotiation

Here are several tips on making an investment in negotiation books:

Before investing in a negotiation book, do some quick research. Find out how it has been rated on sites like Then look at the author’s credentials, as that frequently will define what type of book it will be. For example:

1. Individuals with a mediation background frequently write books that have a problem-solving theme. Most of the books from authors tied to the Harvard Program on Negotiation fall into this category and talk about “BATNA’s (best alternative to a negotiated agreement).

2. Most books that focus on the theoretical aspects of negotiations are written by College Professors with a business, or modeling or game theory background.

3. Books that aren’t written by either professional negotiators, negotiation consultants, mediators or professors are usually tactics books that often restate concepts you can learn by reading the Karrass and Cohen books listed below.

4. Books on negotiation by celebrities may be entertaining and can provide a few useful tips but many are more self-promotion than providing the average negotiator with something useful.

5. Individuals with a communication focus frequently write books on the sub-aspects of negotiation such as communication skills or being able to read body language. They may be worth reading.

6. Books with a focus on a specific type of negotiation such as international negotiations may be more focused on providing cultural tips rather than actual negotiations content and may assume that you know the negotiating basics.

Here’s another Tip. If the title has “Theory”, “Art”, “Reasonable”, “Heart”, “Tao”, “Culture”, or “Collaborative” in the title, it’s probably more theory oriented or focused on problem solving. If it has “Power” “Street Smart” or “Bare Knuckle” or “Guerrilla” in the title it will usually be more tactics oriented.

Here’s a third tip. Look at the individuals on the book inside cover who are giving it praise. Find out the type of books they have written and you’ll get an indication of the type of negotiation book it probably will be.

Books on the sales person’s approach to negotiating are limited. Part of what they teach is an understanding how to sell, and if you ever get a chance to read any materials from the Xerox Sales Training course it’s very helpful (your own company may have something similar they use that could be helpful). It provides an understanding what sales people are trained to do in the selling process that is closely linked to negotiations. I believe that Xerox still sells the training to external customers.

Gary Karrass has also written books and has classes on negotiating for salespeople. A book that does a great job of highlighting potential tactics a salesperson may want to use to “win” in their negotiations is “Guerrilla Negotiating, Unconventional Weapons And Tactics To Get You What You Want” by Jay Conrad Levinson, Mark S.A. Smith, and Orvel Ray Wilson. They also wrote “Guerrilla Marketing”. This book is a collection of tools and tactics (some good, some bad and some bordering on ridiculous) that sales people may try to use. Some of the tactics are similar to what you would find in the books on negotiation by Karrass, and Cohen, but it provides new thoughts and insights specifically focused on sales negotiations that are well worth reading. I would suggest you read this book if you want to understand the tactics sales people are being taught, so you’re prepared to spot them when they are used against you and you’re prepared with an appropriate counter. A number of the things they recommend can simply be reversed and be used as a Buyer tactic.

There are very few books that are 100% focused on the Buyer’s side of the negotiations. On I think a total of 5 are listed with Purchasing or Procurement and Negotiation in the title. I haven’t read any of them on that list so I can’t comment on their relative worth.

My complaint on procurement training has always been that the negotiation training for Buyers has always been disjointed with the individual Buyer needing to learn a number of different things from a variety of different sources and be able to pull that together to be a better negotiator. It’s not just about tactics, and all the tactics in the world won’t do you much good if you don’t understand what you are negotiating, what it means, what the risks and costs are, how it can impact you, and then know when and how to use the appropriate strategies and tactics to get you to where you want to go.

I think you first need to know how to negotiate before you learn about using problem solving approaches to negotiations. It takes both parties to want to problem solve and if the opposition isn’t willing to approach the agreement on a problem solving basis, you need the negotiating skills to negotiate with them or help drive them to problem solving.

Here is a list of eight books on negotiation that I recommend reading. Their focus is either about tactics or problem solving. If you’ve already taken a professional course on negotiation I would still suggest reading them if for nothing more than a refresher
1.Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World: Stuart Diamond
2.Give And Take: The Complete Guide to Negotiating Strategies and Tactics: Chester Karrass
3.The Negotiating Game; Chester Karrass
4.You Can Negotiate Anything: Herb Cohen
5. The Economist Pocket Negotiator : Gavin Kennedy
6. Just Say No – Jim Camp

To learn about win-win negotiations I would suggest reading:
1.Value Negotiation - How to finally get the win-win right : Horacio Falcao. This textbook
would be especially helpful if you aren't familiar with the concept. It provides the concepts provided in the Fisher and Ury books listed below and but also provides a number of other concepts on how to negotiation and negotiation to provide the reader a road map on Win-Win.

2.Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In : Roger Fisher, William Ury
3.Getting Past No: Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation To Cooperation William Ury

These will teach you about tactics and negotiation strategies. To learn the knowledge that makes both tactics and strategies more effective, you can continue to read the blog and buy my book.

Want to learn more? The companion book "Negotiating Procurement Contracts - The Knowledge to Negotiate" is now available on A hotlink to
Is at the top of the post.