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The Skilled Negotiator

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The Skilled Negotiator

Mastering the Language of Engagement


15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

How do you become a skillful negotiator? Practice, prepare, be patient, be flexible, be alert: Things will happen fast.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Kathleen Kelley Reardon’s book is packed with smart, solid advice. It is well suited for experienced, patient negotiators. She brings an impressive level of knowledge to the table. Reardon makes a fine point about the need to match one’s delivery to the audience and the situation, and then - like a chef who just keeps cooking - repeatedly offers the reader extra hefty servings of information to digest. Like a solid restaurant dinner, this is often a good thing - the book is truly packed with useful information - but it is sometimes challenging, particularly for beginners. Novices may be daunted, for instance, by the list of 64 different persuasive strategies a top tactician might use. Most of these approaches are worthwhile, but Reardon really did rustle up this buffet for her title audience, "skilled negotiators." finds her tactics, theories and specific suggestions focused, intelligent and well researched. Penetrating readers will harvest lots of substance to enrich their negotiation practices. And beginners, well, you’ll have a lot to digest.


What Is Negotiation?

Negotiation is an interactive process where two or more sides engage in creating alliances and agreements. Negotiating requires you to be mindful of yourself, and your assumptions, values, emotional triggers and issues - all factors you must also monitor in the other parties. Ideally, negotiating parties, who start from different vantage points, will talk until they reach a shared perspective that serves everyone and that everyone accepts as valid.

To be a good negotiator, be versatile. You cannot plan a negotiation like a flow chart from beginning to end. Instead, you must change your tactics on the fly as you integrate new information and interact with other people. Your assumptions may block flexibility. Move past all your positive or negative assumptions to get to the heart of the issues.

Broadly speaking, negotiations are either distributive or integrative. "Distributive negotiation" is primarily a winner-take-all approach; you try to win even if it costs the other party dearly. "Integrative negotiation" is more cooperative. These two types don’t exist in a vacuum, of course; they are two ends of a spectrum. However, if you assume you...

About the Author

Kathleen Kelley Reardon teaches in the University of Southern California’s business school, where she is director of the Leadership Institute’s Presidential Fellows Program. She also wrote The Secret Handshake.

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