The best books for negotiating great strategic business relationships

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an international authority for my award-winning research on the Vested® business model for highly collaborative relationships. I began my research in 2003 researching what makes the difference in successful strategic business deals. My day job is being the lead faculty and researcher for the University of Tennessee’s Certified Deal Architect program and my passion is in helping organizations and individuals learn the art, science, and practice of crafting highly collaborative win-win strategic business relationships. My work has led to seven books and three Harvard Business Review articles and I’ve shared my advice on CNN International, Bloomberg, NPR, and Fox Business News.

I wrote...

Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships

By Jeanette Nyden, Kate Vitasek, David Frydlinger

Book cover of Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships

What is my book about?

For years, businesses have worked under the assumption that the goal of negotiation is simply to get the deal.  Hundreds of books have been written on “getting to yes,” “getting past no,” and “getting more”….the prevalent assumption to “get a signature and you are done.” More and more business success depends on strategic relationships built for an ever-dynamic and interconnected world that will endure long after “the deal is done.” Getting to We challenges the paradigm of conventional negotiations. Rather than simply getting to the deal, Getting to We teaches readers a powerful and proven five-step process for how business partners can successfully work together in a dynamic business environment of constant change, increasing risk, and unchartered opportunities.

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The books I picked & why

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

Kate Vitasek Why did I love 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. 

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

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beyond Winning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Conflict is inevitable, in both deals and disputes. Yet when clients call in the lawyers to haggle over who gets how much of the pie, traditional hard-bargaining tactics can lead to ruin. Too often, deals blow up, cases don't settle, relationships fall apart, justice is delayed. Beyond Winning charts a way out of our current crisis of confidence in the legal system. It offers a fresh look at negotiation, aimed at helping lawyers turn disputes into deals, and deals into better deals, through practical, tough-minded problem-solving techniques.

In this step-by-step guide to conflict resolution, the authors describe the many obstacles…

Book cover of What's Fair: Ethics for Negotiators

Kate Vitasek Why did I love 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.

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

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked What's Fair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What's Fair is a landmark collection that focuses exclusively on the crucial topic of ethics in negotiation. Edited by Carrie J. Menkel-Meadow and Michael Wheeler, What's Fair contains contributions from some of the best-known practitioners and scholars in the field including Roger Fisher, Howard Raiffa, and Deborah Kolb. The editors and distinguished contributors offer an examination of why ethics matter individually and socially, and explain the essential duties and values of negotiation beyond formal legal requirements. Throughout the book, these experts tackle difficult questions such as: * What do we owe our counterparts (if anything) in the way of candor…

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

Kate Vitasek Why did I love 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. 

By David A. Lax, James K. Sebenius,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 3-D Negotiation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When discussing being stuck in a "win-win vs. win-lose" debate, most negotiation books focus on face-to-face tactics. Yet, table tactics are only the "first dimension" of David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius' pathbreaking 3-D Negotiation (TM) approach, developed from their decades of doing deals and analyzing great dealmakers. Moves in their "second dimension"--deal design--systematically unlock economic and noneconomic value by creatively structuring agreements. But what sets the 3-D approach apart is its "third dimension": setup. Before showing up at a bargaining session, 3-D Negotiators ensure that the right parties have been approached, in the right sequence, to address the…

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

Kate Vitasek Why did I love 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.

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

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Crucial Conversations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times and Washington Post bestseller that changed the way millions communicate

"[Crucial Conversations] draws our attention to those defining moments that literally shape our lives, our relationships, and our world. . . . This book deserves to take its place as one of the key thought leadership contributions of our time."
-from the Foreword by Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"The quality of your life comes out of the quality of your dialogues and conversations. Here's how to instantly uplift your crucial conversations."
-Mark Victor Hansen, cocreator of the #1…

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

Kate Vitasek Why did I love 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!

By Dan Ariely,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Predictably Irrational as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why do smart people make irrational decisions every day? The answers will surprise you. Predictably Irrational is an intriguing, witty and utterly original look at why we all make illogical decisions.

Why can a 50p aspirin do what a 5p aspirin can't? If an item is "free" it must be a bargain, right? Why is everything relative, even when it shouldn't be? How do our expectations influence our actual opinions and decisions?

In this astounding book, behavioural economist Dan Ariely cuts to the heart of our strange behaviour, demonstrating how irrationality often supplants rational thought and that the reason for…

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Book cover of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

Michael Bungay Stanier Author Of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

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Why am I passionate about this?

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What is my book about?

The coaching book that's for all of us, not just coaches.

It's the best-selling book on coaching this century, with 15k+ online reviews. Brené Brown calls it "a classic". Dan Pink said it was "essential".

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By Michael Bungay Stanier,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Coaching Habit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Look for Michael's new book, The Advice Trap, which focuses on taming your Advice Monster so you can stay curious a little longer and change the way you lead forever.

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Interested in negotiation, decision making, and ethics?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about negotiation, decision making, and ethics.

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