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This page is the original source of this review, though you may also find it on Amazon or other sites.

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Book Review of: Negotiation Genius

How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results
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Review of Negotiation Genius, by Deepak Malhotra and Max. H. Bazerman (Hardcover, 2007)

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)

Reviewer: 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 strategies.

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 parts.

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.

 

This page is the original source of this review, though you may also find it on Amazon or other sites.

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About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

The reviews I do will, contrary to emerging trends, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or not substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably another 6,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree undergrad and an MBA. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read to begin with.

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