The best books for negotiating great strategic business relationships

Kate Vitasek Author Of Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships
By Kate Vitasek

The Books I Picked & Why

Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes

By Robert H. Mnookin, Scott R Peppet, Andrew S Tulumello

Book cover of Beyond Winning: Negotiating to Create Value in Deals and Disputes

Why this book?

While this book is written for lawyers, it is a must-read for anyone who is a professional negotiator. I love how this book stresses that traditional hard-bargaining negotiation tactics can lead to run. The book artfully makes the case that a lawyer should serve the client's interests rather than merely papering the deal or making sure the contract will win in court. I especially like the emphasis on the need to shift from conflict to collaboration and how Mnookin and his co-authors focus on not just negotiating the deal – but how to make a deal sustainable so it avoids a Pyrrhic victory. I was also glad to see the chapter on professional ethics – something many negotiators often overlook in their quest to get the best deal. 


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What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

By Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow, Michael Wheeler

Book cover of What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

Why this book?

This book is the most significant book ever written on the topic of ethics in negotiation. The book is a treasure trove of wisdom from some of the most well-respected practitioners and scholars on negotiation including Roger Fisher, Howard Raiffa, and Deborah Kolb. I like how the book examines ethics in negotiations by addressing difficult questions that people should consider when negotiating.  The approach puts you in the hot seat because it brings front and center the dilemma most negotiations face – how to balance the need for getting the best outcome with doing the right (and ethical) thing.  This is a must-read because ethics in negotiation are essential for establishing a sustainable business relationship long after the parties paper the deal with a formal contract.


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3-D Negotiation: Powerful Tools to Change the Game in Your Most Important Deals

By David A. Lax, James K. Sebenius

Book cover of 3-D Negotiation: Powerful Tools to Change the Game in Your Most Important Deals

Why this book?

3-D Negotiation lives up to its title – by showing that negotiations require a multi-dimensional (3D) perspective. My favorite part of this book is the emphasis that deals are unlikely to last when negotiations ignore the “spirit of the deal.” As Lax and Sebenius put it, "while parties can agree to the same terms on paper, they may actually have very different expectations of how those terms will be met. And because they fail to achieve a true meeting of the minds, the deal they've signed may well fall apart." Their solution? Negotiators need to look beyond the tactics (the first dimension) and make sure they consider the deal design (the second dimension) and the setup (third dimension). The authors provide a compelling argument about why negotiators fall short when they don’t consider all three dimensions. 


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Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

Book cover of Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

Why this book?

Skilled communication is more vital than ever in a pandemic, post-pandemic, and Zoom world. Crucial Conversations has been and continues to be a best seller because it offers practical and powerful skills to help people work through tough conversations they typically dread. I first picked up this book when I was facing a crucial conversation with a co-worker. But after digging in I quickly realized how this book should be considered mandatory reading for every negotiator. The focus on specific skills and techniques to make conversations better is sure to come in handy in virtually all negotiations no matter what the situation.


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Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

By Dan Ariely

Book cover of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Why this book?

When it comes to making decisions in our lives, we think we're making intelligent, rational choices. But are we really?

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely took me through a learning journey helping me see how decisions people make are actually often predictably irrational. For example, why do people consistently overpay, underestimate, and procrastinate? So why do I pick this book on my Top 5 list for negotiators? When negotiators begin to understand the hidden forces that shape decisions, they are more likely to realize they are often their own worst enemy when negotiating. And they can gain better insights into the decisions their counterparts make. The book is a best seller for a reason – it is not only educational but enjoyable to read!


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