Negotiation Genius, by Deepak Malhotra and Max. H. Bazerman
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
Good negotiators are methodical, so it's not surprising
that this book takes a methodical approach. For example, it's laid out
in three parts that are naturally sequential. Each part consists of
chapters in progressive order. This structure helps the reader absorb
the material rapidly. Not everyone is comfortable with a methodical
approach or a structured way of thinking. But unstructured thinking and
haphazard approaches put a very low ceiling on performance in
negotiation and in many other disciplines. The book itself exudes the
methodical approach and structured thinking that are key to good
negotiating. The authors obviously take their own medicine.
You may have read a new book in which the author claims
to have the insight everyone else is missing and then contradicts what
came before. Diet books are notorious for that. Fortunately,
Negotiation Genius builds on the existing body of knowledge. Having
read other books on the topic of negotiation, I was pleased to find that
this book is consistent with the established literature while also
providing new insight.
Three things I found especially helpful were in Part
III, "Negotiating in the Real World." There were:
Chapter 9: Confronting Lies and Deceptions. Many of the
strategies espoused in negotiation books, seminars, and courses work
well if the other party is negotiating in good faith and trying to work
with you. But even small, unintended deceptions (they believe it, even
if it isn't true) can easily undermine otherwise brilliant strategies. A
good negotiator doesn't use any particular strategy in isolation. A
negotiation genius goes a step further, by using strategies specifically
targeted at uncovering lies and deceptions, then using other strategies
to overcome them with the best outcome in mind. This book provides those
Chapter 11: Negotiating from a Position of Weakness.
We've all had to negotiate from a position of weakness. Situations
include such things as negotiating a salary, dealing with the IRS for a
reduction in the amount of unpaid taxes they erroneously claim you owe,
trying to get help getting another flight when yours is cancelled at the
last moment, or solving a problem with a customer who seems to hold all
the cards while being unreasonable. You can probably add to this list,
with very little effort. So, what do you do in these situations? If you
have nothing really to offer the other party, you can't do a quid pro
quo or do any kind of bartering. If you have nothing to offer, how can
you motivate the other party to help you get what you want? The answers
to these, and related questions, are in this chapter.
Chapter 12: When Negotiations Get Ugly: Dealing with
Irrationality, Distrust, Anger, Threats, and Ego. Things can get out of
hand, simply because someone assumes an insult you didn't make or
misreads your intentions. People look at things through their own
lenses, based on their situation, their culture, their experience.
Negative emotions can cause both sides to engage in mutual destruction.
A case history that illustrates how close we can come is the Cuban
Missile Crisis. This book uses that case history to explain several
strategies for defusing a situation and getting things back on track.
As mentioned earlier, this book consists of three
Part I: The Negotiator's Toolkit consists
of three chapters. Here, we learn about claiming and creating value. The
authors give the reader several proven tools for obtaining the
information needed for claiming and creating value. They call those
tools, collectively, "investigative negotiation."
Part II: The Psychology of Negotiation also
consists of three chapters. The essence of Part II is that we are all
human beings. We make mistakes, and we have our biases. But the biases
are systematic and predictable. The authors draw from the latest
research to provide the reader with tools to help avoid biases. They
also provide tools to help the reader identify biases of the other side,
and actually use those to advantage.
Part III: Negotiating in the Real World
makes up almost half of the book. It consists of eight chapters, and
I've already covered three of them. The other five that I didn't cover
are all worth reading and absorbing. Actually, all eight are worth
studying and implementing, using the book as an ongoing coach.
As noted earlier, Negotiation Genius is consistent
with the established literature. What I didn't note then, and will note
now, is it's consistent with more than just the established
negotiation literature. The basic tenet of the book is that if you
work to overcome your ignorance, you will be able to work from an
informed position and therein lies your real power. The details of how
and why to do that, along with some things not to do, are what you will
gain from reading this book. The authors assert that going beyond simply
reading it will give you the best value for your book purchase.
Conscientiously study and apply the principles in an ever-increasing
circle of what you consider negotiable, and you will not only reap huge
personal rewards but also enrich others. After reading this book, I am
inclined to agree with them.
Be sure to read
Getting Past No, Getting to Yes, and The
Power of a Positive No, as well.