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Reader's Review, November 2012


By John D. Baker



Negotiation Mastery: Tools for the 21st Century Negotiator

By Simon Horton
270pp. London: MX Publishing, 2012
Paperback (USA) $19.95


Simon Horton is the Lead Trainer in Negotiation Skills at the United Kingdom training and coaching firm of Negotiation Mastery. You are not seeing double, the name of Mr. Horton's firm and his book are the same.

Mr. Horton holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Brighton University (U.K.) and has done additional graduate work at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). His career has been almost evenly divided into an early period of approximately ten years as a business consultant to the financial services industry and a second path of almost equivalent length as a negotiation skills trainer and coach. In that capacity he has focused on training hostage negotiators, lawyers, bankers, and large manufacturer purchasing department personnel. Additionally, Simon Horton serves as a Visiting Lecturer at both the Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art.

This book is a primer on negotiation skills and certainly is a reflection of Mr. Horton's courses. His approach is clear and unequivocal from the opening introduction through the last page of his book: "... the negotiated solution must be win-win in nature" (p. 13).

Lest the reader have any doubt about the certainty of Mr. Horton's commitment to win-win negotiation, he explains his view immediately: "...it is a no brainer" (p.14). Mr. Horton's argument for his approach is an eminently pragmatic one. Quite simply, he states:

"...If the other party is not satisfied with the agreement they will not implement it or they will sabotage it or undermine it or implement it to the letter but not in the spirit" (p. 14).

To further define his approach, Mr. Horton labels it as "Strong Win-Win" (p.21). Unlike traditional win-win approaches, Mr. Horton states, his "strong" variant avoids the two major criticisms that have been raised against the strategy. "Strong win-win" he contends:

  1. " ... only works if the other party plays win-win too"
  2. " ... stresses credibility and strength in the deal. Strong Win-Win will not bullied" (p.21).

With these characterizations and an array of seemingly unending statements such as "... win-win does get you your best deal" as anchor, Mr. Horton moves into an essentially traditional negotiation skills presentation ranging from the importance of preparation through joint problem-solving to enlarging and splitting the pie. It is a solid and useful work filled with a wide range of examples and illustrations of techniques and strategies that worked and others that failed.

Readers will find Mr. Horton's presentation of steps in the preparation process, the vital role of creativity, and the importance of developing your Plan B alternative into a true and real option of particular interest.

Too often, negotiators are not really prepared to walk-away from negotiations despite their early planning bravado. Mr. Horton not only drives this plan home, he is correct in this reader's view. "He who cares least wins," he tells us. Mr. Horton sees this saying as true. Alas, it often is true. This reviewer, however, sees this the proverbial pregnant moment, a cross roads with one path leading out the door and a second path pausing for a last try by the parties. One must always work even harder to find the path to agreement at the darkest hour of the negotiation. To do less is to sacrifice potential for immediacy when patience may be the miracle remedy.

Readers will also find the author's admonitions to "start with no" (p. 87), "cultivate your alternatives" (p. 90), and "warn them before you walk away" (p.91) excellent advice. There is much here in few words. The thoughtful negotiator will find much to reflect upon in these pages.

As a last note, I fully agree with Mr. Horton's often stated contention that negotiations are rarely one-on-one situations. Much to their chagrin, many negotiators take too long to learn this key component of negotiations. The importance of this understanding alone is worth the price of the book.

Recommended.

John D. Baker, Ph.D.
Editor


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The Negotiator Magazine (November, 2012) Copyright © 2012 The Negotiator Magazine