Negotiation - Part 2: Books To Improve Your Tactics

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means you still receive the best price and we may also receive a commission if you click a link and purchase a book that we have recommended.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means you still receive the best price and we may also receive a commission if you click a link and purchase a book that we have recommended.

When it comes to working with executive clients, negotiation is one of the first and most important functional competencies that we focus on improving. In our last post, we elaborated on why negotiation takes priority in our corporate coaching and how changing the way you look at a negotiation can increase the value of the outcome for all parties involved. 

Today we are delving into four books that we typically recommend to clients on the topic of negotiation. These books create a solid understanding of techniques and practices that can increase your success in negotiation situations. 

William Ury: Negotiation Expert

During our discussions of negotiation with clients, we always recommend William Ury’s work. Co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation and highly regarded negotiation expert, Ury is largely responsible for shifting the way we as a society view the topic. 

Rather than focusing on negotiation as a zero-sum game, with two parties in conflict, Ury and his co-author Roger Fisher popularized the idea that the parties should consider the needs of each other and work towards the best possible solution that benefits everyone. 

Ury’s background shaped his viewpoints on negotiation and lead to his belief in the added-value approach. Originally a diplomat and international negotiation advisor, Ury mediated conflicts in the Middle East, the Soviet Union, and Latin America. His work was heavy and full of international intrigue and high-stakes. He had to navigate interactions between people of different political positions, sociological statuses, and cultural backgrounds, to ultimately bring everyone to a common outcome. He began to promote the idea of principled negotiation, involving less conflict-driven techniques.

Most modern negotiation experts, scholars, and authors draw influence from Ury’s three most well-known books: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Getting Past No: Negotiating In Difficult Situations, and The Power of a Positive No: How To Say No and Still Get To Yes. 

Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Getting To Yes centers around the idea that in every negotiation, each party has certain needs that can be flexible, and those that they cannot budge on. When you enter into a negotiation, you must consider the other party and discover which of their needs are fixed and which are not. 

The book encourages the reader to reflect on the other party’s background and interests and brainstorm solutions that will create mutual gain and satisfy the fixed needs of both parties. Each party should focus on their own needs while also taking the other person’s needs into account. 

It is a valuable tool for learning how to navigate negotiations and create agreements. Our clients come away from this book with ideas for how to implement skills to establish productive and positive negotiations that move towards mutually beneficial outcomes. Getting To Yes serves as an important foundational understanding for how parties can work together and form agreements. 

Getting Past No: Negotiating In Difficult Situations

Equally as important as Getting To Yes, the sequel, Getting Past No, continues the path for learning how to be a master negotiator. 

As much as we would love to achieve a yes with ease, every negotiator faces situations where the other party remains difficult and refuses to give in at all. When particularly difficult negotiation situations arise, a great negotiator takes control, remaining calm, defusing the situation, and pushing the conversation towards a positive outcome. 

Getting Past No provides strategies for how to do that in even the most frustrating conversations. 

One of the best takeaways from this book is that the first no you get is actually the most valuable piece of information you are going to receive in a negotiation situation. That first no establishes the boundaries and limitations of the conversation, and gives you insight into the stakeholders behind the other party.

The Power of a Positive No: How To Say No and Still Get To Yes

The Power of a Positive No is another valuable book for executive clients looking to develop stronger negotiation tactics. In this book, Ury teaches the importance of the word no, which he considers to be the most valuable word in the English language. 

Sticking to your principles and establishing boundaries is a vital skill in the corporate world. The tricky part is learning how to say no in a way that allows you to preserve relationships and avoid alienating others or creating more conflict. 

This book is a great way to learn how to communicate effectively, overcome manipulative techniques, and remain confident in your “no” while still working towards a positive solution. 

We find that this book is particularly beneficial to our female clients, who face extra societal pressures and expectations. Female executives can sometimes struggle with how to present themselves in a high-stakes situation. They often face challenges with how to say no, maintain their integrity, and stick to their values. 

The Power of a Positive No teaches everyone to discover what is most important to them and use that to fuel communications about decisions while still feeling genuine in their integrity. 

Ury’s books can have a great effect on the success of executives in terms of negotiation. We assign them to most of our clients, and we have never seen anyone read them and have their lives move in any direction other than more productive. 

There are hundreds of other books about negotiation that build on these 3 books. They expand on Ury’s principle ideas, add additional tools to the toolbelt, and enrich the understanding of ideas in these books. There is one additional book that we tend recommend, however, which stands out in stark contrast to Ury’s negotiation approach.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Chris Voss’s background in negotiating was drastically different than Ury’s. As the chief negotiator for the FBI, Voss’s job was navigating hostage negotiation situations. In these situations, a win/win was not possible. He had to get the perpetrator to give him everything he could get and give essentially nothing in the process. His book, Never Split the Difference, teaches hard skills to apply in high-stakes negotiations. 

Never Split the Difference is fascinating, and we believe that if you can get past the author’s bravado and ego, there is real, practical value in the book. It contains techniques and tactics based on practical experience that teach the reader how to get exactly what they need out of a situation.

We find that if we can groom a client in the Ury method, where they are negotiating to build relationships and create value in almost every situation, but have the sharp, hard negotiation skills from Never Split the Difference in their back pocket for particularly conflicted situation, they can acquire a full spectrum of negotiation capabilities. 

The skills you can gain from these four books will give you a huge step in the right direction for bettering your negotiation skills and implementing them in the corporate world and beyond. Entering into a coaching engagement will allow you to take that knowledge and implement it practically, eventually mastering the skills and taking control of all types of negotiation situations.

If you are ready to take the next step and meet with a coach who can shape your skills and lead you through hands-on practical experience, contact us today

Heath Dieckert