Frequently, I am asked to recommend the best books on negotiation and mediation. On the occasion of the passing of Roger Fisher, I offer three that I consider “must read”:
- Fisher, Roger and Ury, William. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York: Penguin, 1991.
Roger Fisher was a giant in the field of negotiations. Here is his approach as summarized in The Economist‘s recent obit: “In any negotiation, he wrote – even with terrorists – it was vital to separate the people from the problem; to focus on the underlying interests of both sides, rather than stake out unwavering positions; and to explore all possible options before making a decision. The parties should try to build a rapport, check each other out, even just by shaking hands or eating together. Each should “listen actively,” as he always did, to what the other was saying. They should recognise the emotions on either side, from a longing for security to a craving for status. And they should try to get inside each other’s heads.”
- Ury, William. Getting Past No: Negotiating With Difficult People. New York: Bantam Books, 1991.
Ury, Fisher’s colleague at the Harvard Negotiation Project, has written a pragmatic book filled with practical and easily implementable tips on how to manage a difficult negotiation, relationship, or interaction. Do you have a tough boss or an adversary who uses intimidation as a negotiation technique? If so, this is the book for you.
- de Mesquita, Bruce Bueno. The Predictioner’s Game: Using the Logic of Brazen Self Interest to See and Shape the Future. New York: Random House, 2009.
With his cold, calculating view of human nature, de Mesquita uses game theory not to seek mutual gain, as Fisher and Ury do, but to win, period.
If you’re looking for more good reading, see Prism’s full list of books about creativity, problem solving, facilitation, decision-making, design, negotiation, psychology, science and Web 2.0.