7 Best Negotiation Books of 2020
Learn how to use your leverage
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Getting what you want is fun, but getting what you need is an essential skill.
Whether you want to learn how to seal an important business deal or convince someone to cooperate on a project, you need to learn how to negotiate. Negotiating skills are also handy when it comes time to changing the terms of a contract or just to get all of your relatives to agree on a date for the upcoming family reunion. More than just convincing people, negotiation requires empathy, listening, strategy and an understanding of human psychology. To sharpen up your skills, read on to find the best negotiation books to buy right now.
Best Overall: Negotiation Genius: How to Overcome Obstacles
The author of this book, Deepak Malhotra, is considered by many to be the top expert in the field of negotiation. He teaches executives at Harvard Business School, but you don’t have to be a mastermind of business to learn from this essential book.
Negotiation Genius breaks down the habits and strategies that set you up for a successful bargaining session and give you the confidence you need to excel. Whether you’re working on a huge real estate project or just trying to secure next Friday off, the book walks you through the process by using real-world examples as well as cutting-edge behavioral research. You’ll learn how to find common ground, uncover hidden information, exploit the weaknesses of others and refuse to bow to pressure. This book is especially useful when you’re dealing with people across the table who are more powerful or just unethical.
Best Straightforward Guide: Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence
Best-selling author Phil M. Jones has trained over two million people globally in the art of how to say persuasive things and when to say them. This book is just as straightforward as it sounds: Jones will teach you exactly how to be an effective communicator in a clear and concise way.
Highly regarded as one of the world's leading sales trainers, Jones breaks down and helps readers understand complex concepts — a great pick for strengthening conversational skills.
Best for Dealing With Difficult Bosses: Beyond Reason
Not all of the people you face across the negotiation table will be calm and level-headed. Some people are angry, emotional, irrational and, well, just beyond reason. To deal with these people, you need to tap into deep emotional strength and rely on behavioral psychology to guide you. Enter Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro’s pioneering work, which will ensure you’re able to do so. As Harvard psychologists and directors of the Harvard Negotiation Project, Fisher and Shapiro understand better than most how to use your own emotions as a tool and understand the emotions of others in a positive way. The advice inside is both powerful and practical, and will also enable you to be a more empathetic person in your everyday life.
Best for The Toughest Projects: Never Split the Difference
Chris Voss knows how to negotiate with terrorists. Using his experience as a police officer in Kansas City, Missouri and later as a hostage negotiator for the FBI, Voss breaks down the psychology of incredibly high-pressure negotiations. While you probably don’t work with bank robbers and kidnappers in your day job, learning how to remain calm and focused will help your career no matter what industry you’re in. Yes, Voss teaches you how you can use his skills to save lives, but he breaks his philosophy down into nine counterintuitive strategies that will help you whether you’re trying to secure funding for a new project or just convince your partner to cook chicken instead of fish for dinner.
We can’t guarantee that you’ll become the top international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI (a title Voss once held) if you read this book, but it’s certainly a gripping tale that you’re sure to learn a lot from.
Best for Opening Closed Doors: Getting Past No: Negotiating Difficult Situations
It has happened to all of us: you spend hours, days or even weeks preparing a perfect presentation or proposal to bring to your boss. You dress for success, you review your notes tirelessly, you ask your peers for feedback and make sure you’ve thought of every possible question your supervisor could use to poke holes in the plan. And despite all of your hard work, the response to your proposition is a simple, “No.”
You could give up, but that would be devastating, wouldn’t it? Alternatively, you can pick up a copy of this book, written by someone who works at Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, and learn how to move past the hiccup like a pro. You’ll learn how to stay calm, what the other person’s “no” really means, and ways to come back to the table in a way that satisfies both parties.
Best Sequel: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Written by the aforementioned Harvard professor and his colleague Roger Fisher, this book is a great follow up to “Getting Past No.” Afterall, getting to yes is the natural next goal after getting past no. The authors turn universal negotiating principles into easy-to-use methods for dealing with spouses, children, colleagues and superiors without ever losing your cool. Whether you’re ironing out a multi-national real-estate development or trying to get your crying four-year-old to go to sleep already, this book will allow you to take a deep breath, think about the person and problem in a broader context, and work with your “adversary” to reach common ground.
Best for The Tongue-Tied: Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking
Sometimes when you’re nervous, it’s hard to remember your carefully formulated and compelling sales pitch. But don’t fear: this book will teach you how to prepare yourself in a smarter way, use your anger to engage more productively, build a safe space for dialogue and persuade others without coming across as bossy or out of touch. In addition to guiding principles, authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny and Ron McMillan provide examples from high-pressure situations that will help you start productive conversations and bring them to fruition, but also keep your dignity and respect for the other party.