What you will find inside Negotiation Genius

Part I: The Negotiator’s Toolkit

In Part I, we develop a framework that you can use to analyze, prepare for, and execute almost any negotiation you might encounter. Part I also offers a toolkit of comprehensive principles, strategies, and tactics that will help you execute each stage of the deal, from before the first offer is ever made to the final agreement. It turns out that a significant percentage of the million-dollar problems that our executive clients confront have solutions that are contained in these initial chapters. Because we develop the framework and the toolkit methodically, we recommend that you read Part I straight through in the order presented.

Chapter 1: Claiming Value in Negotiation
We begin by focusing on a topic of great importance and appeal to all negotiators: how do I get the best possible deal for my side? We build our negotiation framework by analyzing a straightforward two-party negotiation in which a buyer and seller are bargaining over one issue: price. This chapter covers, among other topics: negotiation preparation, common negotiator mistakes, whether to make a first offer, responding to offers from the other party, structuring your initial offer, finding out how far you can push the other party, strategies for haggling effectively, and how to maximize not only your outcome, but also the satisfaction of both

Chapter 2: Creating Value in Negotiation
Here we expand the “claiming value” framework by examining the more difficult–and more critical– task of value creation. A key insight of this chapter is that negotiators who focus only on claiming value reach worse outcomes than do those who cooperate with the other side to improve the deal for both parties. To demonstrate this, we consider a more complex negotiation in which parties are negotiating multiple issues and facing greater uncertainty. This chapter covers topics such as: strategies for value creation, a framework for negotiating efficient agreements, preparing for and executing complex negotiations, how and when to make concessions, how to learn about the other side’s real interests, and what to do after the deal is signed.

Chapter 3: Investigative Negotiation
Much of what negotiators must do to create and capture value depends on their ability to obtain information from the other side. This chapter presents a powerful approach to information gathering that we call “investigative negotiation.” The principles and strategies of investigative negotiation will help you discover and leverage the interests, priorities, needs, and constraints of the other party–even when that party is reluctant or unwilling to share this information.

Related Link: Harvard Business Review article on Investigative Negotiation, adapted from chapter three of Negotiation Genius

Part II: The Psychology of Negotiation

Even experienced negotiators make mistakes when preparing and executing negotiation strategy. After all, even seasoned dealmakers are human, and all human beings are vulnerable to psychological biases–systematic and predictable departures from rationality–that can derail an otherwise sound negotiation strategy. Part II builds on cutting edge research on the psychology of negotiation and decision-making. We distill theory into the practical tools you will need to avoid these costly mistakes, and to recognize and leverage mistakes when they are made by the other side.

Chapter 4: When Rationality Fails: Biases of the Mind
In this chapter, we focus on cognitive biases–the mistakes that even the best of negotiators make because of the ways in which our minds operate. As we will illustrate, the human mind is accustomed to taking shortcuts that, while often useful for making decisions quickly, can also lead to disastrous strategic moves in negotiation.

Chapter 5: When Rationality Fails: Biases of the Heart
Next we look at motivational biases–the mistakes we make because of our desire to view the world the way we wish it were rather than how it truly is. Unfortunately, it is possible to have a weak negotiation strategy and still feel good about yourself and your prospects for success. It is also possible to continue down the wrong path and never allow yourself to discover how and when a change in strategy is critical. Chapter 5 will help you to identify and avoid these potential pitfalls, and to see the world through a more objective and realistic lens.

Chapter 6: Negotiating Rationally in an Irrational World
Here we offer still more strategies for overcoming your own biases and for leveraging the biases of others. We also explain when it is in your best interest to help the other side be less biased. Why? Because their irrationality often hurts you as well as them.

Part III: Negotiating in the Real World

Finally, we turn to a variety of topics that are all too often ignored in negotiation seminars and books, but which are crucial for success in real-world negotiations. How can you tell if someone is lying? How do you persuade reluctant negotiators to agree to your demands or proposals? How should you negotiate when you have little or no power? How should you incorporate ethical considerations into your negotiation strategy? How should you negotiate with your competitors, opponents, and enemies? As in the first part of the book, our insights and advice on these topics emerge from the experience of thousands of real-world negotiators and from years of systematic and scientific research on negotiation, strategic decision-making, psychology, and economics. Each of these chapters can be read as a stand-alone entity, so feel free to choose first the topics that are most relevant to your situation.

Chapter 7: Strategies of Influence
It is often not enough to have a good idea, a well-structured proposal, or a great product or service to offer. You also need to know how to sell it to the other side. This chapter presents eight proven strategies of influence that will increase the likelihood that others will accept your requests, demands, offers, and proposals. Note that these strategies do not improve the merits of your case; rather, they make it more likely that the other side will say “yes” without requiring you to change your position. Of course, you will also be the target of the other side’s influence strategies, so we provide detailed defense strategies that will defuse their attempts to manipulate your preferences and interests.

Chapter 8: Blind Spots in Negotiation
Many negotiators focus too narrowly on a negotiation problem and fail to adequately consider how the context, the decisions of the other side, and the rules of the negotiation game will affect their strategy and their prospects for success. They also miss out on opportunities for changing the rules of the game to achieve better results. In this chapter, we provide specific advice on how to broaden your focus to ensure that you consider all of the elements that might come into play as you negotiate.

Chapter 9: Confronting Lies and Deception
While many people identify with the notion that “honesty is the best policy,” most people admit to having lied at some point in their negotiations and virtually everyone believes that others have lied to them. In this chapter we address questions such as: What might motivate someone to lie in a negotiation? What are some of the strategic costs of lying? How can you tell if someone is lying? How can you deter people from lying to you? What should you do if you catch someone in a lie? If you are interested in telling the truth, but don’t want to lose your shirt at the bargaining table, what are some smart alternatives to lying?

Chapter 10: Recognizing and Resolving Ethical Dilemmas
Many people believe that ethics are too personal and idiosyncratic to be discussed broadly or categorically. This is undoubtedly true–to a degree. Yet recent research suggests that people often behave less ethically than they themselves consider appropriate. In other cases, they are not even aware of the damage they are inflicting on others when they pursue certain strategies. And in the shadow of major corporate scandals, there’s a renewed emphasis on maintaining integrity while still achieving negotiation success. We provide a framework for thinking more carefully and comprehensively about these issues.

Chapter 11: Negotiating from a Position of Weakness
This chapter is about power–and the lack of it. Most negotiators will at some point find themselves in a position of weakness with seemingly few, if any, alternatives. (Indeed, many of our executive students and clients complain that they are always negotiating from a position of weakness vis-à-vis their customers, their boss, or their spouse!) Such negotiations require careful analysis, creative thinking, and insights into how such situations can be turned around. We show how you can effectively negotiate when you lack power, and how you might be able to upset the balance of power so that you move from a position of weakness to a position of strength.

Chapter 12: When Negotiations Get Ugly: Dealing with Irrationality, Distrust, Anger, Threats, and Ego
How do you negotiate when the other side appears to be entirely irrational? How do you negotiate when trust has been lost and the other party is unwilling to come to the table? How can you defuse hardball tactics such as ultimatums and threats? How should you deal with a party that is angry or one that is too proud to admit that their strategy was flawed? Our approach in this chapter recognizes that most important negotiations include at least some of these difficulties and that ignoring them is not only extremely ineffective, but often entirely impossible.

Chapter 13: When Not to Negotiate
There are occasions when negotiation is not the answer. If you have limited power and few prospects for success, you might do surprisingly better by giving up what little power you have. Or, if the costs of negotiating are high, you might want to find cheaper alternatives to making the deal or resolving the dispute. In other instances, negotiation itself may be a barrier to creating the kind of relationship you want with the other side. But what should you be doing instead? In this chapter, we provide you with a framework for distinguishing between the times when you should be playing the negotiation game and the times when you should be changing the game.

Chapter 14: The Path to Genius
Genius in negotiation requires knowledge, understanding, and mindful practice. This book can give you the first and help you with the second, but the third will be largely up to you. We end by considering what happens when you turn the last page and head back into the real world. Which mind-set will maximize your ability to put your learning into practice? What habits will you want to cultivate in the weeks and months ahead? What expectations should you have of yourself and others? How might you help others in your organization negotiate more effectively? A sentiment once expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson captures the essence of our message: “Man hopes; Genius creates.” When the task is difficult, when obstacles arise, when negotiations are unraveling, and when it looks as if the deal is lost, most negotiators will panic or pray. Negotiation geniuses, in contrast, will only strengthen their resolve to formulate and execute sound negotiation strategy. We hope that this book convinces you to do the latter, and provides you with the insights and tools you will need to negotiate like a genius at the bargaining table–and beyond.