Sunday 11 December 2016

Read and learn: the right way to seal that deal

Getting More -- How you can negotiate to succeed in work and life Stuart Diamond (Penguin £14.99)

Published 30/09/2010 | 05:00

THIS excellent book is written by a former 'New York Times' reporter who now teaches negotiation at the Wharton Business School as well as advising governments and companies such as Johnson & Johnson and the World Bank.

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Diamond's training as a reporter, teacher and practitioner have stood him in good stead and helped produce a tome that is both readable and useful for anybody who has to negotiate with staff, suppliers, creditors or even their wives and children.

That means just about anybody not living in solitary confinement.

His basic message is a simple one: force does not work, but neither does rational argument.

The successful negotiator depends on getting people to look at the world and feel the world in the same way that she does.

Diamond believes a negotiation that considers feelings is much broader than one that just considers interests, and includes all needs from the reasonable to the crazy.

Focus

The good negotiator also stays relentlessly focused on her goals and should not be distracted by the usual emphasis on forming relationships.

One good suggestion from the book is to start meetings with the question: 'What do you want at the end of this meeting that you don't have now?' It's an obvious one really, but many meetings would benefit from such focus.

While the book contains a fair amount of theory, 'Getting More' is essentially an extended coaching session on everything from reducing your credit card rate to renegotiating Ukrainian bonds.

The great strength of the book is its unrelenting focus on the art of negotiation.

Reading it, one becomes aware once again that almost every interaction with another human being is at least open to negotiation, and the book gives one the interest and confidence to start negotiating.

Weaknesses

The book has weaknesses in crucial places, however. A section on buying cars amounts to little more than 'check the internet to get a feel for prices', while a potentially promising section on family businesses, something of particular interest to Irish readers perhaps, is very short beyond noting that buying and selling a family business involves more emotion than other sorts of negotiations. There is also no index -- which is unforgivable.

Inexperienced negotiators will probably gain most from Diamond's 386 pages.

Engagingly written, with literally thousands of anecdotes taken from real life and several strategies to help the beginner on the road to better negotiation, the book will probably inspire those who do not rate themselves as particularly good negotiators to practise in everyday situations and gradually do what it says on the cover -- get more from their conversations with customers, suppliers, employees and everybody else.

Recommended. Available from next Thursday.

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Irish Independent

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