When we’re babies and toddlers, most of our negotiation skills revolve around begging, pleading, and throwing tantrums until we get what we want — or we get a very loud “no” and our pleas are ignored. As we mature, we understand that these tactics don’t work, and should no longer be employed. So we grow more cunning, and by the time we’re teenagers, we recognize the value of bargaining for what we want. A promise to mow the lawn tomorrow if we can borrow the car tonight may net us a fun night, but come tomorrow we’re stuck with a promise that must be fulfilled.
As we enter the workforce, we come to terms with the fact that we don’t always get what we want, no matter how hard we negotiate. In fact, asking for certain things, like a raise, if done incorrectly may even get us fired.
How does an adult navigating the business world get what he or she wants – without resorting to tantrums or physical violence? Employing a sharp mind, and a sharper tongue helps, but alone they may not get you what you’re after.
The art of negotiation: yes, I understand that term is trite, but negotiation is an art and it's something that can be improved. Just like a runner trains for months before a marathon, building up stamina and speed, negotiators must also prepare and train. Luckily, this doesn’t require long hours ticking away miles on your treadmill.
What does getting what you want in a negotiation entail? For the most part, it takes preparation, determination, and the ability to communicate effectively.
The following is a list of the best negotiating advice, from books that aim to sharpen your skills. Whether you’re looking to negotiate a raise or who does the dishes this week, these books will help you understand negotiation tactics, as well as how and when to use them.
Set very clear personal goals before stepping into any negotiation ring. What do you want (and not want) and what's it worth to you?
'Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People' By: G. Richard Shell
Plato alluded that when it came to understanding human nature — that you must first know oneself. Socrates said that people appear foolish when they try to understand obscure things before they know themselves.
In his book, "Bargaining for Advantage," Shell stresses the point that you must first “know thyself” before you try to bargain with others. It is essential to understand the how and why of what you want before you can ask for it. Indeed, if you don’t know what you’re asking for, how will you know whether you’ve received it?
Tip: You’ll want to read this book first because Shell also highlights which negotiation styles work under different circumstances.
'Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It' By: Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
This book was written as an alternative to the more traditional "Getting to Yes."
The authors argue that all humans suffer from “cognitive bias,” or an unconscious, irrational, brain process that distorts the way we take in the world. Because of this bias we don’t always understand our own interests or act according to them.
Not just about negotiation tactics, "Never Split the Difference" will help you outfox the person across the table by understanding more about human nature.
It takes confidence
We’re not always taught that it’s okay to ask for what we want. This is especially true for women. It’s only been recently that strong women have been celebrated in the workforce, and they still have a lot of adversities to overcome.
'The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance: What Women Should Know' By: Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
If you’re not confident in yourself, or your value, how can you know your worth? How can you negotiate what you deserve – not just in the workforce, but in all of life? Women need to stop apologizing, and start gaining the confidence they need to get the same jobs, for the same pay that men get.
"The Confidence Code" combines science and first-hand accounts from many powerful women. There is no reason you shouldn’t get what you want, as long as you have the confidence to go after it.
If you’re not a woman, consider getting this for your daughter, mother, cousin, or your female friends.
Be a better communicator
Communication is a bit of a broad topic, and communicating isn’t just about talking, especially when it comes to negotiation. Being a good communicator starts with knowing how to ask for what you want and includes listening more, being direct in what your wants are, as well as knowing when and how to say what you need to.
In addition, you’ll need to understand that not everyone sitting across the table from you is going to be like you. To be an effective negotiator means to be able to negotiate with anyone: your boss, people of the opposite sex, and people whose culture is completely different than your own.
Other cultures negotiate using different tactics than what you may be used to. Recognize this and use it to your advantage. If you know how someone in another country negotiates, you might have a leg up on him or her.
'Getting More: How You Can Negotiate to Succeed in Work and Life' By: Stuart Diamond
If you’re ready to challenge common misconceptions about negotiating, including the often troublesome win-win theory, this book is for you. "Getting More" goes beyond short-term goal negotiations to help you work on also achieving your long-term goals.
What "Getting More" offers is not a solution through the use of power but a way to view the other person’s point, put yourself in their shoes, and to use that insight to get more of what you want.
'Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion' By: Robert B. Cialdini
While "Influence" is an older book (albeit with a revised edition) and some of the examples may seem outdated, the techniques contained within are valuable — and not out of date.
"Influence" looks at the psychology of sales negotiations as well as a specific formula to drive a sales negotiation to a successful conclusion.
For example, if you’ve ever held a sales position, you may have learned this trick: you offer the most expensive item you’re selling first. Once the potential buyer sees the price, you then show the lesser expensive items. This way, your potential customers don’t view the most expensive item as too expensive, and may even deem it the better value.
'Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In' By: Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton
The authors of "Getting to Yes" live the win-win strategy, and stress deciding issues on their merits rather than through a process of haggling. They stress that you don’t just go back and forth discussing what you and the other person will and won’t do. What you want to do instead is look for mutual gains.
It’s not just about what you want, or what the other person wants. It’s about how you can both gain more.
When you reach areas where a conflict of interest resides, you should insist on a result that is independent of either side.
'Perfecting Your Pitch: How to Succeed in Business and in Life By Finding Words That Work' By Ronald M. Shapiro and Jeff Barker
"Perfecting Your Pitch" is about using powerful, persuasive communication to succeed in your negotiations. Shapiro and Barker stress that only way to have effective communication is to plan what you’re going to say.
Not just for those in the workforce, this book gives you the tools to do everything from visiting a sick friend to getting rid of a bad roommate.
Companies are becoming more geographically and organizationally distributed. Gone are the days when teams were all in the same office (or even the same country). Teams from all over the world collaborate with each other on Slack or chat via Hangouts. So if you're going to learn how to negotiate, you're going to have to master some of the nuances of international cultures.
'Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries' By: Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway
Do you find that your negotiating skills don’t always translate once you leave the country? "Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands" recognizes that negotiating tactics differ from country to country, and helps you to understand what you’ll encounter while working for a global company, and economy.
Whether you work in other countries, or you travel for fun, this book will help you get what you want.
'The Global Negotiator: Making, Managing And Mending Deals Around The World In The Twenty-First Century ' By Jeswald W. Salacuse
Another great read for those of us whose business takes us to international countries.
"The Global Negotiator" follows the win-win technique to negotiate cross-border debates. Salacuse tells us to ask ourselves about the nature of the negotiation and to decide if it’s a contract or a relationship. For example, if you’re going after the contract, while the other person wants a relationship with a contract being second, you may not be able to get the outcome you want.
Put it into practice
Don't let study and preparation get in the way of practice. Nothing will hone your negotiating skills better than good 'ol fashion practice. Since you likely don't have the opportunity to negotiate a raise or major strategic deal every day, look for smaller opportunities to practice negotiating in your day-to-day life.
'Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High' By: Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
Is negotiating totally foreign to you? Many of us don’t have to negotiate in our daily communications, at least not in the classic sense. But if you’re tired of being the one who always backs down, this book is for you.
"Crucial Conversations" emphasizes the importance of preparation, including creating a safe environment for all parties to present their side.
Also, this book will give you the tools to transfer emotions into a dialog that works in your favor because you’ll be using persuasion techniques, rather than making demands.
'Negotiating at Work: Turn Small Wins Into Big Gains' By Deborah M. Kolb and Jessica L. Porter
This book will help you learn strategies to get the other person negotiating when they don’t want to, as well as how to recognize when it’s the right time to go from "an ask" to "a negotiation."
It will help you know when to question the status quo, and when to seek out new negotiation opportunities.
If quality and diversity are important to you, "Negotiating at Work" is a book you’ll want to pick up as it goes into depth on both conflict management and negotiation for both genders.