The Negotiator Magazine

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Reader's Review

John Baker

The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins - Especially You!
By Ronald M. Shapiro and Mark A. Jankowski with James Dale
268pp. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998, Revised Edition 2001
Hardcover Edition: (US) $ 24.95; Paperback, Revised Edition $19.95

Each year, new negotiation books roll off the presses in astonishing numbers. Most, seemingly filled with promise, fade rapidly from memory. Some live on as contributors to the negotiation discourse for years.

This month's review looks at The Power of Nice, one of those works that has flourished over many years and is still readily available for purchase in book stores to add to a negotiator's reference shelf. First published in 1998, the book is now in a revised paperback edition (2001).

During the 1990's, the win-win school of negotiation dominated much of training practice and organizational interest. At its core, win-win negotiation seemed to mesh perfectly with the "new" corporative pantheon of teamwork, brainstorming and creative-problem-solving as keys to success in the emerging global economy.

What could be more ideal than this new school of win-win negotiation which promised to engage the brightest minds of two or more organizations in a common enterprise to enlarge the potential in every deal? It was teamwork and creative problem-solving in practice and best of all, done properly, long-standing relationships would surely emerge since everyone won and no one lost. It was perfect.

Despite its promised wonders, however, win-win negotiation did not always work as expected by its advocates. The common and immediate answer to this matter, its adherents assured, was more training.

Still, even with more classes, inescapable questions arose and persisted about win-win negotiation. Creative minds sometimes expanded the negotiation "pie," but created difficult and uncalculated support commitments and unanticipated risks in the process. Wolves talking the win-win talk appeared and fleeced the unwary. Actual outcomes often failed to match expectations as both sides worked to produce a win-win outcome.

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April 2005