We engage in negotiation every day, whether we’re drafting a complex, multibillion dollar merger, or merely determining who does which household chores, says Oxford’s Saïd Business School lecturer and former attorney Jim Reiman. This thorough book is his offering “by a practitioner for the practitioner” to assist readers in developing the four skills needed for successful negotiations: setting clear goals, being prepared, listening, and being self-aware.
In an effort to demystify a sometimes-daunting subject, Reiman encourages readers to think about negotiations as a two-act play: In Act 1 the two parties state their needs; in Act 2 they figure out how to come to an agreement that meets both of those needs. It’s not, he reminds readers, just about winning, but about both sides achieving their goals. This framework will be familiar to fans of Roger Fisher and William Ury’s iconic Getting to YES, which Reiman later references explicitly.
The author walks readers through setting goals, preparation, and dealing with common challenges, peppering the text with examples and case studies. For example, Barbara Weston, Director of Global Trend & Design at Bed Bath & Beyond, learned not to make assumptions when she wrongly believed a Chinese supplier shared her Christian faith and found herself with a set of scrambled nativity displays featuring too many baby Jesuses and not enough Wise Men.
Templates and charts provide a handy-and easy-to-understand scaffold for approaching a successful dialogue. The text is uncluttered and efficient.
Unfortunately, otherwise-helpful advice is hampered by a dry presentation and less-than-engaging language (e.g. “negotiation is a process effected through dialogue” or “Understanding the motivations and interests of those who influence decision-makers is often just as important as understanding the motivations and interests of the decision-makers when it comes to an impasse.”) Readers may struggle to wade through the plodding text to absorb salient points.
Still, for those willing to persevere, the author delivers solid information that could help in any negotiation.