Not everyone is a born negotiator. Without the right words or techniques to barter for what you want, it’s sometimes hard to get your hands on it. That’s why negotiation skills are so vital to both your personal and professional life.
Fortunately, for those of us who aren’t natural negotiators, others who do possess that quality have written books designed to make you more effective. The following 23 books each bring actionable tips to the table so you can bargain like a boss, whether you’re selling a property or asking for a well-deserved raise. Now, get out there and get what you want.
Perfecting Your Pitch by Ronald M. Shapiro: You know you have a tough conversation coming up, so what do you do? For many people, the go-to tends to be winging it. Shapiro disagrees with this notion and instead suggests — and shows the importance of — planned communication.
Negotiating at Work by Deborah M. Kolb and Jessica L. Porter: Negotiation is more than just a way to solve conflict. In the workplace, it can be an agent for change, especially when you use your negotiation powers to break down barriers and update outdated practices. For women, this makes negotiation an especially powerful tool. This book shows you how it’s done.
The Power of a Positive No by William Ury: There are right ways to say “no,” and there are wrong ways to say “no” — the latter can cause relationships to fall apart, both personal and professional. Picking the right words and presenting your “no” the right way can make all the difference. In fact, it can lead to the “yes” you’re looking for. This book gives you the skills to make this happen.
Getting Past No by William Ury: How are you supposed to compromise without any movement from the opposing side? This book gives you actionable steps to dealing with this and other hard-to-navigate situations, such as maintaining control and handling “dirty tricks” that could be played.
The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman: Despite their intelligence and high level of education, women still fall behind their male counterparts in the corporate race. Kay and Shipman believe this has to do with the female level of confidence, which is typically lower than that of their proud male coworkers. They argue that a boost of confidence will do female workers wonders in all areas, negotiation included.
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss: Chris Voss was once the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator, so needless to say, he knows how to strike a deal. His high-stakes negotiations might not seem similar to what you’re trying to accomplish, but there are certainly overarching truths to all negotiation situations, and he shares many in this book.
Women Don’t Ask by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever: You’re not the only woman who has a hard time asking for what you really want or need — it’s a gender-specific problem that this book fully explores. By reading this book, you will learn how to ask and see the difference this skill has made in the lives of other powerful women.
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie: Here’s another self-help book that’s stood the test of time: It was originally published at the low point of the Great Depression. Clearly, Carnegie’s advice is still solid, and it covers everything a good negotiator would need — making first impressions, maintaining conversation, giving positive criticisms, etc.
Beyond Reason by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro: Another member of the Harvard Negotiation Project weighs in on the practice in this book. Fisher works with psychologist Daniel Shapiro, who’s an expert on the emotional side of negotiation. Together, they’ll teach you how to channel your emotions into a discussion that’s fruitful for both sides.
Built to Win by Lawrence Susskind and Hallam Movius: This book applies to managers who have others bargain on their behalf. It not only points out potential flaws in your business that could get in the way of a deal, but it also shows you how to mentor your team so they negotiate confidently and correctly.
Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher: “Getting to Yes” has been in print for more than 30 years, proof that the tips in this book have made and will continue to make a difference in the lives of negotiators everywhere. Its tips cover conflict in a range of situations, and its suggested techniques for solving them come from the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that specializes in conflict resolution at just about any level.
Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini: Robert Cialdini is a social psychologist, so he knows how people work. His research shows that the most important moment of negotiation isn’t when you deliver your message, but during the set-up. How receptive did your audience become to your pitch? Find out some of the best techniques for setting up your negotiation here.
When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead by Jerry Weintraub: Perhaps the self-help genre doesn’t appeal to you. If not, pick up this autobiography, in which Weintraub flaunts his very best skill: persuasion. See how it influenced and bettered his life, and you might just be inspired to pick up a book with more actionable tips to improve your own negotiation prowess.
Just Listen by Mark Goulston and Keith Ferrazzi: You’ll never get through to someone who doesn’t feel like you’re listening, and vice versa. Break down walls with the tips in this book, designed to ensure the person on the other end of your negotiation feels heard and understood — and more likely to compromise.
3-D Negotiation by David A. Lax and James K. Sebenius: Most negotiators enter a session considering only what they’re going to do when face-to-face with a client, colleague, etc. Lax and Sebenius believe this is simply not enough and that there are three dimensions to any good negotiation tactic. All the moves you’ll need to make your own 3-D negotiation reside on the pages of this book.
Negotiating the Nonnegotiable by Daniel Shapiro: According to Shapiro, there are five emotional forces that get in the way of a compromise or agreement: vertigo, taboos, repetition compulsion, assault on the sacred and identity politics. They’re the reason that a calm disagreement can turn into emotional upheaval. The good news is you can overcome these feelings and still come to a conclusion that suits all parties — this book will show you how.
Asking by Jerold Panas: One of the hardest things we have to do in life is ask for what we want, especially if it involves asking for money. Jerold Panas did that for a living and turns his experiences into advice for those who need to do the same. Better yet, it’s a promised short read that most can make their way through in an hour or less.
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson: There’s quite a difference between being persuasive and being abrasive. “Crucial Conversations” aims to help you make that switch, as well as others that promote positive, thoughtful conversations rather than emotional ones.
What Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro: Body language can say a lot about a person, and learning to read it can help you improve your negotiation skills. Navarro gives tips to make a quick reading on someone else, as well as how to improve your own body language in the eyes of others.
The One-Minute Negotiator by Don Hutson and George Lucas: There’s no one-size-fits-all way to negotiate, as you’ve probably seen personally. Huston and Lucas teach you how to understand your own negotiation strategy and how to adapt it in order to gel with whom you’re trying to negotiate.
Getting More by Stuart Diamond: This book’s message applies to any type of conflict-resolution, whether it’s a deal at work or a deal with kids who want ice cream before bed. It prescribes a better understanding of the other side’s feelings and point of view, rather than exerting power or logic.
Influence Without Authority by Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford: Without any real authority over your colleagues, you can feel frozen when trying to get others to help you with a particular professional task. Cohen and Bradford show that you don’t need to wait around until you’re given the right to require support from others. Instead, you can strategically reach out and break through the invisible barriers that kept you from doing so before
The Art of Woo by G. Richard Shell and Mario Moussa: Let’s end on a positive note with a book that exudes feel-good vibes. The authors’ four-step process is all it could take to change the mind of your skeptics. They believe positive persuasion should be just that: opening hearts and minds in the right way.
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