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Business Book Club: ‘Getting More’ by Stuart Diamond

How to negotiate to succeed in work and life.

I am grateful to those of you who have thought enough of this column to reach out and thank me for my efforts and express the value you have found in the books discussed. Just a few weeks ago one of these conversations ended in a recommendation for a future review, and I am proud to say it was an excellent suggestion.

Stuart Diamond is an American professor, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, attorney, entrepreneur, and author who has taught negotiation for more than 20 years at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He currently teaches the “Engineering Negotiation” course at University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science and a Negotiations Course at Penn Law School.

The book itself, Getting More, is a New York Times best-seller and has sold over 1.5 million copies in 27 languages. It was called the #1 book to read for your career by The Wall Street Journal’s career site and the best negotiation book “of all time” by Inc Magazine for Entrepreneurs.

With that introduction, I could just say, “Read the book” and call it a day. But I always look forward to enticing you with a few details that resonated with me. The problem was deciding what to focus on as there are 384 pages packed with incredible information and insight.

Let’s begin with Diamond’s statement that “negotiation is the heart of human interaction.” It should never be a competition, a conflict, or an attempt to defeat an opponent. Proper negotiation is about reaching your desired outcome through an understating of the nuances and details that others simply don’t recognize. It’s more than just win-win; it’s improving situations, creating opportunities, and blessing the lives of all involved — including your own.

He breaks the process down into 12 strategies that are much different than people typically think about negotiation. Most importantly, he posits that, “Emotions and perceptions are far more important than power and logic in dealing with others. Finding, valuing, and understanding the picture in their heads produces four times as much value as conventional tools like leverage and win-win.” Here are a few of these strategies.

It’s All About Them — This seems obvious, but so often a person begins the process by staking a claim to their own outcome without even considering the elements that the other person values. It’s like a car salesman showing off the power and performance of the latest sportscar without realizing the customer needs a truck to haul manure. Putting the other person’s needs, wants, and desires first is often seen as allowing them to control the interaction when it actually opens up the relationship through understanding and respect.

Make Emotional Payments — People are irrational, and the higher the stakes the more irrational they will become. When they are irrational, they become emotional, and when they are emotional, they aren’t listening to you. If they aren’t listening, it doesn’t matter what you say. Your powers of persuasion are worthless. You need to empathize with them, understand their position, and even apologize if necessary to reset their emotional state before attempting to move forward.

Find Their Standards — Determine the policies, procedures, rules, and regulations that make up their personal or company mindset. People don’t argue with their own data. If they are stepping outside of their own framework, you can call them on it. Playing by the rules they themselves have established makes it easier to properly frame your points and positions.

Always Communicate, State the Obvious, Frame the Vision – Bad communication is to blame for most failed negotiations. I remember being in front of a company owner and asking the question, “You already have a competitor’s product with which you are obviously very happy. Why did you agree to this meeting?” I watched my local rep almost swallow his tongue. He had worked hard to get this meeting, and I had just sabotaged it before we even got started. However, the owner furrowed his brow and then broke into a huge grin. I was only stating the obvious, but he appreciated my candor and instantly began to explain what about my competitor’s product was lacking and how he wanted to inquire into my offering. Communication, honest and frank, is one of the most critical elements of the process.

There is so much information in this book that it is difficult to give you a complete summary. However, being the brilliant, accomplished man that he is, Diamond provides a final chapter entitled, “How to Do It,” in which he outlines application of all that he has taught in the previous pages. I am looking forward to a second read, as I am sure I will absorb even more.

Check out all the titles in Dave Donald’s Business Book Club.