What is the BEST book you've ever read on NEGOTIATION?!

20 Replies

Hi BP members, I'm about to order some books on negotiation and would love you input.

What is the best book or books you've read on the topic of negotiation? Has the book's content actually helped you improve as a negotiator? I'm all about the books that can be translated to have an impact in real life - not the kind that is just filled with new/cool ideas to chew on. Thanks!

Never split the difference by Chris voss

By all means in my opinion the best book

Getting to Yes, by Fisher and Ury.   

In my opinion I don't think you need to read about negotiation. Its all about who has options. If you have alot of other potential investments, you can just say, I have better options and that's it. From his side, if he has other buyers willing to pay more then it doesn't make sense to sell to you. 

I think you have to be careful about some techniques you hear about because they are basically fraud and deception. Some techniques just prey on ignorant people and I don't like that strategy. A good example is car salesman. Alot of people I know consider them people who will lie to sell.

@Eunice L.  , @Laith Ali absolutely has a point in there.  She is correct that when leverage is evident or when one is able to stand his/her ground, then negotiation 'tactics' are moot.  In fact, in many negotiation training sessions, the first lesson taught is that sometimes, you simply can't negotiate. 

However, there are lots of gray areas.  More than you can count.    As a basic example, we're not always talking about money or inventory.  Maybe a tenant or buyer is giving you a hard time about money, and you give up.  After you both walk away, you may learn that they were more than willing to come to terms with your money, "if you only could have done this..." and sometimes "this" is something that would have been very easy and/or that you never would have thought to consider.   

Another example-- think about the last time you had to make a deal with someone who inherently made you angry or uneasy.  No matter what you did, it was hard to shake the little monster jabbing you in the pit of your stomach, right?  Even if you could tell that they were about to say "uncle,"  you were more likely to want to squeeze them just a little harder.  Whether you acted upon it or not,  you wanted them to feel it just a little more than the person you met the week prior-- the one who approached you earnestly but respectfully and said he/she had a problem with your proposal that he/she was willing to try to work out with you.  

You were looking for good negotiation books from the community, so, here's a quick list, in my opinion,  of what a good book should cover:  

 Good negotiation books (and training) tend to focus on sound communication and extracting data so you can make everyone's life easier-- yours, and your adversarial partner's.  They also focus on those emotions-- keeping yours in check whether you're the aggressor or the pursued.  Good resources help you identify the most important pieces of the puzzle so you don't get caught up losing a good deal over a "Want" as opposed to a "Need"  and no matter whether you're up against the jerk or the nice guy.  

 Good negotiation books and training are not about ways to over-use your leverage, to bully an adversary, or to get everything you ever wanted through scorched earth tactics.  Instead, they provide ideas to think outside the box, to identify and maximize opportunities,  and get to the table.  The sole objective is--  without caving on the important pieces in your deal-- to get to the table

Finally, a good book should focus a healthy amount on people-- every situation is different because the people driving the situations are different.  Until you build rapport, you have no idea who's on the other side-- and even then, one of your most trusted confidantes can throw you a curve ball if something riles him/her on that particular deal, too.  That's happened to all of us, whether the topic is a multi-Million Dollar real estate transaction or who's bringing dessert to a holiday dinner with family.

There are lots of other topics, but this is, in my opinion, what should be present at a minimum to be a 'good' book on negotiation. 

If you are still looking for resources, you're welcome to PM me.  

Happy New Year, 

Steve

@Steve McGovern:

I have to disagree Steve. I don't think its as gray as you think. I found your reply very vague, and that's how most of these books are very vague. I read too many books on real estate and finance that were just vague. I feel like they are just saying stuff so they can keep the book thick to justify the price. 

I will say that experience is what gives you good negotiating skills. If you don't know anything about construction then it will be very hard for you to get a good deal because you have no reference on whether the price you got was fair or above average. I also think that having good experience gives you genuine confidence. 

@Eunice L. my favorite is an audio by Roger Dawson, The Secrets of Power Negotiating.  I got it from Nightingale Conant.

I could not disagree more with Laith Ali. I learned a tremendous amount from Roger. How people react to certain scenarios is important to negotiating. Learning what questions to ask and how information can be used for a win win situation is valuable. 

There is no shame in ignorance - unless it is a choice. 

i guess that tells you what I think about choosing not to read to learn.

I really liked never split the difference by Voss and getting more by Stuart Diamond. They both see negotiation as more than a zero sum game.

I just started The Book on Negotiating Real Estate by J. & Carol Scott and Mark Ferguson published by BP. So far I really like it and the real world real estate examples that reinforce concepts. E.g. a woman’s dad whose house she is selling won’t take less than 100k but J. Can’t pay more than $95k. He negotiates to pay $20k down and $80k more once the rehab is done and sold. This saves him finance costs win win

Thank you @Sean Walton for mentioning @J Scott 's book. I meant to mention it myself. I haven''t read it yet but will soon.   J is a very sharp guy and anything he writes is worth reading. 

So far I’ve been reading “the way of the wolf” by Jordan Belfort. Just interacting with people and listening to how he and his team would negotiate sales haas had a big impact on my conversations!

Originally posted by @Laith Ali :

@Steve McGovern:

I have to disagree Steve. I don't think its as gray as you think. I found your reply very vague, and that's how most of these books are very vague. I read too many books on real estate and finance that were just vague. I feel like they are just saying stuff so they can keep the book thick to justify the price. 

I will say that experience is what gives you good negotiating skills. If you don't know anything about construction then it will be very hard for you to get a good deal because you have no reference on whether the price you got was fair or above average. I also think that having good experience gives you genuine confidence. 

 Hi Laith!  Thanks for your reply.  Sorry I didn't see it before  (Personally, I can't "really tag" people from my mobile;  maybe that's what happened here.)  

Again, I completely here what you're saying .   Negotiation classes, books ARE vague, because every situation is different, and because the parties in every situation are different.  Biology is also vague...  until you concentrate in Mammalogy, Botany, Herpetology, or even further down into molecular biology or organic chemistry, but you have to start somewhere.   

To reach the most people with the the most strategies, a somewhat vague approach is actually required.  At print, the authors often have no idea whether their readers are practicing real estate, litigation,  international diplomacy, or if they're just bartering at flea markets and antique shops.   

Your statement on experience, and especially that confidence that one acquires from that experience is also spot-on.    I would say that the classes I've taken in negotiation are much, much more valuable than the simple books I've read, and they give you an example of how some of these negotiations can go.  Playing these negotiation games is valuable learning from both the academic and experiential sense.  

(Yes, this will also be vague, but it really happens.)  Take 20 people, and split them into 4 groups of 5.   Give all 4 groups the same problem to solve.  Usually 1 person in each group is a neutral, and the other 4 will be 2 parties who want "A" and two parties who want "B".  Run the game by its rules.  Inevitably, one group won't be able to make a deal, one or two groups winds up with "A" or "B" Winning everything, and the other party getting nothing, and the others will be somewhere in the middle--  they've found a creative way to break the ice.  Almost every time you run it, a different result comes up.  In this case, the control is the set of standards and the rules; it's the people who vary in these instances.  People who vary from their experience levels to their willingness or reluctance to engage others, to their confidence to their own varying levels of personal interest in the outcomes.   

For those who are looking for better ways to "learn" negotiation, I definitely recommend taking a look at some of these courses.  I just googled "edX"  and "Negotiation" and a bunch popped for me in the edX and coursera platforms.  These are generally free classes.   You can also google negotiation games and run them at work or with friends at a party.  They're fun, eye-opening, and can help boost people's confidence in specific scenarios.  Add alcohol at your peril.  :-)  

Originally posted by @Sean Walton :

I really liked never split the difference by Voss and getting more by Stuart Diamond. They both see negotiation as more than a zero sum game.

I just started The Book on Negotiating Real Estate by J. & Carol Scott and Mark Ferguson published by BP. So far I really like it and the real world real estate examples that reinforce concepts. E.g. a woman’s dad whose house she is selling won’t take less than 100k but J. Can’t pay more than $95k. He negotiates to pay $20k down and $80k more once the rehab is done and sold. This saves him finance costs win win

 That BP Book is a good recommendation, Sean, thank you.   Maybe @Laith Ali  and others who (again, are correct to) consider other books vague can find more value in a book like this since the examples are real-world, and grounded in Real Estate.   I may check it out, myself.  

Also just bumped into this ancient thread on the subject as I searched for this book-- other offerings from our colleagues, 9 years ago.  

https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/62/topics/279...

Originally posted by @Steve McGovern :
Originally posted by @Laith Ali:

@Steve McGovern:

I have to disagree Steve. I don't think its as gray as you think. I found your reply very vague, and that's how most of these books are very vague. I read too many books on real estate and finance that were just vague. I feel like they are just saying stuff so they can keep the book thick to justify the price. 

I will say that experience is what gives you good negotiating skills. If you don't know anything about construction then it will be very hard for you to get a good deal because you have no reference on whether the price you got was fair or above average. I also think that having good experience gives you genuine confidence. 

 Hi Laith!  Thanks for your reply.  Sorry I didn't see it before  (Personally, I can't "really tag" people from my mobile;  maybe that's what happened here.)  

Again, I completely here what you're saying .   Negotiation classes, books ARE vague, because every situation is different, and because the parties in every situation are different.  Biology is also vague...  until you concentrate in Mammalogy, Botany, Herpetology, or even further down into molecular biology or organic chemistry, but you have to start somewhere.   

To reach the most people with the the most strategies, a somewhat vague approach is actually required.  At print, the authors often have no idea whether their readers are practicing real estate, litigation,  international diplomacy, or if they're just bartering at flea markets and antique shops.   

Your statement on experience, and especially that confidence that one acquires from that experience is also spot-on.    I would say that the classes I've taken in negotiation are much, much more valuable than the simple books I've read, and they give you an example of how some of these negotiations can go.  Playing these negotiation games is valuable learning from both the academic and experiential sense.  

(Yes, this will also be vague, but it really happens.)  Take 20 people, and split them into 4 groups of 5.   Give all 4 groups the same problem to solve.  Usually 1 person in each group is a neutral, and the other 4 will be 2 parties who want "A" and two parties who want "B".  Run the game by its rules.  Inevitably, one group won't be able to make a deal, one or two groups winds up with "A" or "B" Winning everything, and the other party getting nothing, and the others will be somewhere in the middle--  they've found a creative way to break the ice.  Almost every time you run it, a different result comes up.  In this case, the control is the set of standards and the rules; it's the people who vary in these instances.  People who vary from their experience levels to their willingness or reluctance to engage others, to their confidence to their own varying levels of personal interest in the outcomes.   

For those who are looking for better ways to "learn" negotiation, I definitely recommend taking a look at some of these courses.  I just googled "edX"  and "Negotiation" and a bunch popped for me in the edX and coursera platforms.  These are generally free classes.   You can also google negotiation games and run them at work or with friends at a party.  They're fun, eye-opening, and can help boost people's confidence in specific scenarios.  Add alcohol at your peril.  :-)  

Hi Steve, I'm not against learning or reading, it's just that I think you are wasting your time, from my experience. I read many books especially real estate books and realized that they waste so much time talking about useless things. Even thought I don't how much these authors make, I think money is a big factor for them writing. That's why they write 7 different books with different titles but basically the same message. You have to be able to think outside the box if you want to be good at negotiating. 

Maybe I'm difficult but you haven't convinced me lol. So much for your negotiating skills :)

Gotta add a vote for my old HLS prof Roger Fisher and “Getting to Yes.” 

It’s a book I would both reread (and have) and share with a counterpart to read. For a community like this, including lots of people who hope to collaborate, GTY provides a valuable framework. 

—Starting with interests 

—Exploring options

—Insisting on legitimate criteria 

Negotiating both for good results and for lasting relationships. I recommend it. It’s a quick and fun read. And authors Fisher & Ury spawned much of the modern scholarship on negotiation, so it’s foindational for other stuff you’ll read  

(I do want to read the FBI guy’s book that was discussed on the podcast.)

I know you are looking for a book but if you have an hour and a half to spare, I highly recommend listening to the BiggerPockets podcast that featured Former FBI Hostage Negotiator, Chris Voss. I listened to it on a long drive and not only did I take a lot from it but it was very interesting. If you do enjoy it, you should look into reading the book which goes a little more in depth about everything they mention in the podcast. A couple people have mentioned the book but it is:

Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss

LIFE - that's the best book. Free too. The others won't serve you much.
But if you still want to know:
Never Split the Difference
The Art of the Deal
All the stuff from Jordan Belfort

Getting to yes by Fisher and Ury How to win friends and influence people is another good read. Whileits not strictly about negotiating it's definitely helpful.

@Jefferson Smith , thank you and I appreciate the following statement:

"Negotiating both for good results and for lasting relationships." I'm not interested in making a quick buck and screwing people over profit and damaging my relationships or my reputation. I like those types of approaches that you mentioned!

@Terry Skinner , thank you for the podcast suggestion! I did listen to it when it first came out and that was one of the reasons I started researching on the subject:)

@Eunice L.   Based on a suggestion above I have bee looking at YouTube videos with Chris Voss. I am impressed so I will be getting his book Never Split the Difference.  Thanks @David Lichtenstadter for the suggestion. 

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