Last week, I wrote about a great book on negotiations. This week, I write about a terrible one. 112 Ways to Succeed in Any Negotiation or Mediation: Secrets from a Professional Mediator is not worth 112 minutes of your time. It is not even worth 12 minutes of your time.
Here’s one of those secrets that only a professional mediator could possibly know: “The secret to making the best opening offer, which allows the continuation of the negotiation process, is that there is no secret, just good judgment under the circumstances.” (p. 67).
The book is a collection of seemingly random thoughts, 112 of them. (I guess; I did not actually count them.) The number gets so high because several of the thoughts are redundant or contradictory. One example of redundancy: on page seven, the author discusses the benefits of buying coffee or lunch for your opponent. On page 73, he urges readers to establish a friendly rapport with your opponent early by “giving a gift or doing a favor for someone[.]” And how’s the following for providing guidance to negotiators? Let’s see if you can square the following bits of advice. (a) “Your competence in your field is an important source of power in your negotiation. Maximize that power.” (p.70) (b) “In negotiations, it never pays to reveal your true intelligence or your true position. It’s better to let the other side underestimate your skills.” (p. 83).
Several of the tips are intended to be practical reminders. For example, the author reminds us to bring food and drink to a mediation session. Here’s a few more secrets that, perhaps, the author could add to the next edition. Tip number 113: Don’t forget to zip up your pants. Number 114: Show up on time. Number 115. . .
Merrick Mediation Services
First Published, ©11/2/2011