The Negotiator Magazine

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Reader's Review

John Baker

Everyday Negotiation: Navigating the Hidden Agendas in Bargaining
By Deborah M. Kolb, Ph.D. and Judith Williams, Ph.D.
377pp. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003
Paperback Edition: (US) $17.95

Everyday Negotiation is a newly titled second edition of Deborah M. Kolb and Judith Williams’ The Shadow Negotiation, winner of the Best Book Award from the International Association of Conflict Management and named one of the Ten Best Books of the year 2000 by the Harvard Business Review. This new second edition, predicated in part upon the authors’ insights into negotiations from their extensive work with women, recognizes that all negotiators, male and female, confront similar challenges when dealing with the hidden assumptions, perceptions and barriers to negotiating successfully or at all. As the authors correctly recognize, these issues are of importance to all negotiators.

Deborah M. Kolb is professor of management at Simmons Graduate School of Management and at the Center for Gender in Organization at Simmons. Dr. Kolb holds a BA from Vassar College, an MBA from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. from the MIT Sloan School of Management. She is a principal in The Shadow Negotiation LTD, specializing in negotiations training for women.

Judith Williams holds a BA from Bryn Mawr College, an MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management and a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Williams has taught at both Boston College and Harvard. She is also a principal at The Shadow Negotiation, LTD.

Drs. Kolb and Williams present their readers with strategies and techniques for dealing with the underlying and often hidden interaction that exists within every negotiation. The authors’ point out that each negotiation rests upon an unstated and critical engagement between the parties about their roles. This parallel interaction is an enterprise the authors call "the shadow negotiation" and is the subject of this book.

The authors’ premise is that the ability to negotiate is critical to success in life. There are few people who would disagree with that assumption. And yet, the authors note, even some individuals who recognize the potential value of negotiating issues of concern to them elect not to negotiate at all. Others try the negotiations route, but give up on the process because they can not make it work. These people come to dismiss the process as no more than an unpleasant game.

As a society, this frustration has a heavy price. By opting out of the process, important issues do not surface, ideas worthy of exploration are silenced and individuals are alienated from one of society’s most valuable channels of communication and change. Why is this so?

Drs. Kolb and Williams suggest the answer requires a reexamination of our view of the negotiation process itself. The focus of scholars and trainers has been on negotiations as a singular process. In fact, the authors contend, negotiations are not about a singular bargaining process, but two separate and inter-related parallel human interactions.

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