Book Review: Bargain Tools
The book lays down granular insights across key stages of the negotiation process — from helping the reader to identify the need for initiating negotiations to managing expectations and, most importantly, sealing the deal with an unrelenting sense of gain
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Negotiation’ is derived from the Latin word “negtitus”, which means ‘to trade’. However, negotiations transcend the boundaries of business and often are the only tool of choice when it comes to getting what we want across all walks of life, everyday.
According to the Oxford English dictionary, the word negotiation is defined as “discussion aimed at reaching an agreement”. As Don Carleone in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather once said, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”, the primary purpose of negotiations is hardly to find mutually beneficial terms; instead, it is to avoid conflict by leveraging rationality or other resources to get the desired or closer to desired results. “Saam, daam, dand, bhed” (Rationale, Price, Punishment, Secret) have been widely recommended in the Vedas as the key tools for a successful negotiation. Getting (More Of) What You Want furthers the line of thought by focusing on the desired result and not on a misplaced sense of balance, which is often confused with the process of negotiations.
Getting (More of) What You Want is a mesmerising book that got me thinking on multiple occasions. One could describe it as a “blueprint for negotiations” (for businesses and otherwise); it offers pearls of wisdom using its anecdotal style. Written by Margaret Neale, the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and Thomas Lys, the Eric L. Kohler Chair in Accounting at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, the book infuses an incredible dose of pychology and economics into the art of negotiation. The book defines negotiation as “a situation in which two or more people decide what each will give and receive through a process of mutual influence and persuasion, by proposing solutions and agreeing on a common course of action”. In other words, negotiation is all about spotting an opportunity where one sees none. The book is unabashedly honest in putting across the key principle of negotiation — good agreements are the ones that make one better off. The learnings are further cemented using philosophy not only to decipher what the other seeks from the deal, but more importantly to crystallise own objectives which define the core need for negotiation. The book draws heavily from the professional experiences of its authors and provides conclusion at the end of each chapter, which comes in handy for a speedy revision.
The book also lays down granular insights across key stages of the negotiation process — from helping the reader to identify the need for initiating negotiations to managing expectations and, most importantly, sealing the deal with an unrelenting sense of gain. In doing so, the book encompasses several key issues including confirmation bias, alternatives, value claiming, bargaining, emotions, etc. Laced with numbers and examples, the book will remind the reader of Freakonomics — A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner. At the time of its release, Levitt and Dubner’s book was described as something that melded pop culture with economics. I would safely conclude that Getting (More Of) adds negotiation and psychology to that mix. What you get is a long yet rewarding read for professionals of every age.
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