Written by Simon Horton, this is a useful book, written by someone with a great range of practical real world experience, from the light hearted (trapeze artist) to the serious (hostage negotiator). This breadth of experience helps to inform the tone of the book. He has serious insights and skills to share with the reader. Naturally we are looking for the killer insights to achieve the results that we want, but he makes it clear that it is also important to recognise when sometimes a deal may just not be possible. He even goes to those dark places to cover topics like ‘what to do if you really cannot trust them at all’.
In negotiations it is important to know how much we are willing to concede and to have a sense of how important something is, or is not to us. Knowing that there might not be a successful outcome to your meeting and business talks is actually a liberating position to start from. Horton ranges from the executive boardroom to the souks of Marrakech, to dating in terms of examples. In all of these scenarios it is important to not be over eager to secure a deal at any cost, as you are then putting yourself in a weaker negotiating position.
Horton also reminds us of the value of not always looking as the person you are negotiating with as your adversary. The win-win philosophy is a valuable approach to use when possible and some good examples are described. Horton also discusses the pros and cons of an open approach where you do put your cards on the table, as part of a ‘we’re all in this together’ strategy. As well as emphasising the importance of not looking for a deal at any cost, Horton also reminds you that it is important to keep looking at all the angles. Do the negotiations have to take place with this person, if they are being difficult perhaps they can be changed? Similarly perhaps parallel threads can take place to ensure not getting stuck on one particular aspect of the negotiations.
The book is a useful tool kit of techniques and strategies to try out to ensure you can achieve the best possible results for you and the people you are negotiating on behalf of. The more you can prepare, and be imaginative and creative, the more likelihood you have of achieving a successful and lasting conclusion to your negotiations.