The best books for ethical negotiators

Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow Author Of What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators
By Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow

Who am I?

I am one of the founders of the American dispute resolution field and have taught negotiation, legal ethics, mediation, alternative dispute resolution and international dispute resolution for 40 years in over 25 countries on every continent. I have mediated, negotiated or arbitrated hundreds of cases. I am a law professor who has taught legal ethics since it was required post-Watergate for all law students. As a negotiation teacher and practitioner, I have seen the effects of deceit and dishonorable negotiations in law and diplomacy and peace seeking and I have also seen what can happen when people treat each other fairly to reach better outcomes for problems than they could achieve on their own.


I wrote...

What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

By Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow (editor), Michael Wheeler (editor),

Book cover of What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

What is my book about?

This book collects the best articles in law, business, politics, psychology, and ethics to provide an overview of philosophical, personal, and moral concerns in negotiating ethically. It also addresses specific and practical issues of strategy, tactics, information sharing, deception, uses of power, relationships and the social impacts of particular negotiations, and the ethics of compromise itself. The book addresses issues of how we should approach each other when we need someone else to accomplish something and what we owe to others who are not at the bargaining table.

The books I picked & why

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Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People

By G. Richard Shell,

Book cover of Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People

Why this book?

This book outlines several important orientations to negotiations—game/poker players (who play by the rules but still want to “win”); idealists who believe in almost always treating people honestly and fairly, even if that might mean less personal advantage and instrumental pragmatists who know—“what goes around, comes around” or “your word is your bond”—reputation is everything. In the context of reporting for laypeople a lot of social science research and practical tips, this book helps orient all negotiators to think about what ethical stance they should consider in different contexts. I have taught excerpts of this book for over 20 years.


On Compromise and Rotten Compromises

By Avishai Margalit,

Book cover of On Compromise and Rotten Compromises

Why this book?

This book explores the expedients of political negotiations and compromises—when should we (not) negotiate with evil people or regimes or those we can’t trust? It explores some of the most controversial negotiations in history (Munich, Yalta, Arab-Israel peace negotiations) and provides both vivid stories and good philosophical standards for trying to do the best one can in problematic settings. How can we make things better when things are already bad? How can we distinguish good acts and bad acts and well-meaning actors in tough situations, and necessary, if painful, political compromises? Major historical events provide guidance even for everyday negotiations.


Negotiation Essentials for Lawyers

By Andrea Kupfer Schneider (editor), Chris Honeyman (editor),

Book cover of Negotiation Essentials for Lawyers

Why this book?

This book provides good crisp and short distillations of what the field of negotiation theory and practice offers for practical advice in legal negotiation settings. It covers deception and candor, information sharing issues, cultural and communication issues in negotiation, dealing with clients and others, the new media of online and email negotiations, and particular issues relating to different kinds of negotiating relationships and contexts. Lots of useful advice for the practical negotiator, as well as for high-level diplomatic and even hostage negotiations. Very useful for its specificity on a range of issues. Useful even for non-lawyers!


Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

By Simon Blackburn,

Book cover of Ethics: A Very Short Introduction

Why this book?

For the more philosophically minded this is a great short introduction to the major theories of ethicality, including what has been said about ethics by Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Adam Smith, Kant, Hobbes, Hegel, Marx, Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen, and others for our orientations to external world issues of great moment and to the more specific issues of what we owe to each other as relatives, community members, world citizens, and human beings. How do we choose our personal (and national and cultural) ethical choices? What are their roots in religion, family, culture, professional training, and economic conditions (e.g., assumptions of scarcity or human flourishing)?  A very good background read for anyone who thinks before acting in negotiation. When do we act from “rights“ and when from “needs”? How should we treat our fellow human beings and have our conceptions changed over time?


The Conscience Code: Lead with Your Values. Advance Your Career.

By G. Richard Shell,

Book cover of The Conscience Code: Lead with Your Values. Advance Your Career.

Why this book?

Drawing on years of business school teaching and research and leading negotiation trainings in many countries, Shell provides an important guide for people to stand up for their values in business, law, and complex work situations. Real-world stories put flesh on the bones of outlines of both philosophical and political approaches to difficult choices in career and workplace negotiations. This book can assist any negotiator in figuring out what is really important to them (and their clients and organizations) and then how to actualize behaviors that make principled change happen. This book also provides great advice about when to walk away from the negotiation table or a particular task or job because higher values call.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in ethics, negotiation, and persuasion?

5,809 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about ethics, negotiation, and persuasion.

Ethics Explore 50 books about ethics
Negotiation Explore 23 books about negotiation
Persuasion Explore 16 books about persuasion

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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