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The Power of Nice entered the negotiation arena at this time when the win-win school was under assault for its performance. Shapiro and Jankowski, co-founders of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute, used the win-win precepts, but in this work re-shaped the basic concept.

Win-win, the authors noted, was not intended to be "wimp-wimp" (p.50). The real goal of negotiation, they asserted, was not just that "both parties win, but you win bigger" (p.45). It was a critical correction to popular thinking about the school and therefore, this book is about what the authors' termed Win-win negotiation.

The means to success in Win-win negotiation is through "the power of nice." "The best way to get what you want," the authors state, "is to help the other side get what they want" (p.249).

The keys to success in their "nice" negotiation, however, remained straightforward and familiar: "Prepare, Probe, and Propose" (p.5). Using carefully selected anecdotes, on the point negotiation examples and some well-created tutorial charts, the authors lead the reader through the essential steps in the negotiation process. It is a well done negotiations skills primer.

Readers will find the three planning charts presented by the authors of particular value. There is one providing seven planning steps (p.100), a second measuring and guiding your skills on asking questions (p.114) and a third on proposal behaviors (p. 143).

In addition to providing an important refocus on the negotiation goal and clear guidance on accomplishing the key steps in the process, the authors also treat some specific areas of the negotiation process that will be of additional interest to any negotiator. By way of illustration, readers are likely to find the chapter on "Negotiating from Weakness" of particular value.

In this section of the book, the authors begin by raising the most fundamental of all concerns about the difficulties inherent in accurately evaluating the relative strengths and weaknesses of the parties before and during a negotiation. They bring us clearly to an awareness and assessment of the perceptions and misjudgments of this critical negotiating element. Then, they shift to present several strategies to improve weak negotiating positions that will be of interest to any negotiator.

The book includes chapter review questions, a "portable negotiator" section to assist negotiators in preparing and evaluating negotiations and an index. My copy does not include a bibliography.


John Baker, Ph.D.

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April 2005