The best books for negotiations that really matter

The Books I Picked & Why

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in

By Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton

Book cover of Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in

Why this book?

It’s not either/or: You can get a good deal and improve your relationship with the other side, at the same time. I loved Getting to Yes when I first read it in Roger Fisher’s law school class, and I still love it today, because it taught me I could solve difficult problems or deal with difficult people, and do it in a principled way. Whether it is a transaction for a Fortune 500 company, negotiating for a raise, or working on an international boundary dispute, the concepts and tools are the same, and they don’t start by requiring the other side to lose. Whether you are a negotiation expert, or just starting out, start here.


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Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

By Sheila Heen, Bruce Patton, Douglas Stone

Book cover of Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

Why this book?

We all have difficult conversations, both at home and in the workplace. You can try to defer them, you can’t entirely avoid them, but you can definitely do better at them, and this book shows you how. Difficult Conversations cuts to the heart of many conflicts by forcing us to recognize how we add fuel to the fire, even if we didn’t start it. But it doesn’t just lay the problem at your feet and leave you feeling guilty and unsatisfied, it gives you a roadmap to having more productive conversations about hard stuff.


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Dealmaking: The New Strategy of Negotiauctions

By Guhan Subramanian

Book cover of Dealmaking: The New Strategy of Negotiauctions

Why this book?

Guhan Subramanian, the author of this book is a triple threat: he’s superbly trained as a lawyer and an economist, he’s an experienced dealmaker, and he’s a gifted teacher. This book is the payoff of all three: in it he brings together his extensive experience to help us understand how many complex business deals combine elements of an auction with those of a one-on-one negotiation. Through many examples, he illustrates ways to play the game or change the game, depending on how the rules do or do not help us.  As much of a negotiation process-nerd as I fancy myself to be, I learned a lot from reading Negotiauctions.  


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The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

By Stephen M. R. Covey, Rebecca R. Merrill

Book cover of The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

Why this book?

I love this book because I am sucker for structure. When I hear that some critical skill is a “function of judgment, timing, and experience,” or that you have “put in the 10,000 hours” to master it, I rebel. Maybe I’m too impatient, but I immediately want to figure out what good looks like, so I can at least start heading in the right direction. So when Covey brought that kind of thinking to the topic of trust, I was intrigued; and he did not disappoint. Speed of Trust not only makes the case for building trust (which we all need much more of in the world today), but also gives us a set of categories and a framework within which to understand how to build it. 


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Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate

By Roger Fisher, Daniel Shapiro

Book cover of Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate

Why this book?

I am an emotional person – and a professional negotiator and advisor. What I love about this book is that the authors helped me see how one doesn’t have to detract from the other. All of us make decisions based in part on our emotions; we can’t just banish them from negotiations (or other difficult choices we make). Just like we can negotiate more effectively when we understand the interests underlying someone’s bargaining position, we can deal with emotions more effectively when we understand the core concerns that drive them. Beyond Reason helped me do that, and integrate an appreciation of those concerns into my work. 


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