BMP Book Reviews

Book Review: Negotiation Mastery


One idea plus one idea equals three ideas or more. You have a cow, I have a bull, together we have a business. When the output is greater than the sum of the inputs, this is value creation and it is this that has driven the whole progress of the human species.

-- Simon Horton, Negotiation Mastery


Negotiation Mastery by Simon Horton, an experienced negotiation teacher and consultant, is a practical and highly entertaining read whether you are a career negotiator or just wish your skills were a little stronger. In his decade-long career, he has helped hostage negotiators, law firms, financial institutions, and students from the graduate level through the boardroom improve their confidence and outcomes as they enter negotiations.

 Part of what makes the book such an easy read are the interesting cases he uses to illustrate his points and make them stick in the memory. Simon is clearly well read and a student of both history and modern politics as evidenced by his examples. There is humor sprinkled throughout: for instance – according to the figures from a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report released in 1997, you are 20 times more likely to be involved in an accident with an air freshener than you are to suffer an injury from a shark attack. You’ll have to trust me that the example makes a good point in the context of the book.

Simon has balanced the traditional messages around body language, preparation, power and alternative outcomes with a focus on getting the other party (or parties) to a win-win mindset. In today’s competitive business landscape, our own ability to succeed is closely linked to the success of the people and companies we work with. In order to maximize everyone’s benefits, we have to negotiate terms that will also be executed according to the spirit in which they were agreed upon and contracted. Otherwise, as Simon reminds us, you may be satisfied with your how your demands were received, but once you aren’t looking that waiter is going to spit in your soup. It is all in the execution.

When we tie the core message of the book to the challenges we face in procurement today, I think of how often I hear that ‘negotiation skills are no longer enough’. Procurement’s role in the organization has expanded such that we also need strong internal marketing and communication skills, operational finance knowledge, and strong strategic planning capabilities. But no one is saying that negotiation skills are no longer needed – in fact they are now assumed to be part of the core abilities of any successful procurement professional. We need those skills for our interactions with suppliers, executives, and stakeholders – so if you feel your skills could use a little brushing up and some structure to lean on, I highly recommend ordering a copy of Negotiation Mastery.

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