Even before you complete the first chapter of this book, you will realize why the services of negotiator and author Herb Cohen are in such demand. The theory behind his professional success and book (as the title, Negotiate This! By Caring But Not T-H-A-T Much, suggests) is simple: the key to a successful negotiation is to establish a degree of care for the outcome that is enough to makes your expenditure of time and energy worthwhile but is not enough to hinder your position at the bargaining table.
On a practical level, the book is jammed with technical negotiation techniques geared towards the achievement of your negotiating goals. Cohen teaches everything from the critical importance of building a relationship well in advance of your negotiation sessions to the most effective way to present, modify and obtain approval for the terms you want to see incorporated into a final deal. To bolster the validity of his ideas, Cohen offers plenty of examples of our nation’s past leaders implementing his techniques and achieving significant gains.
Since, Cohen explains, everything is subject to negotiation, there is real value in understanding the needs of your adversary and seeking to address them. In a frank manner, he explains countless relationship-building techniques that can be used to negotiate win-win deals with even the most formidable opponents. In addition, Cohen focuses a lot of attention on the role power plays in a negotiation and the common misconceptions about its presence. Specifically, he explores how to determine who truly has the power, and if this does not happen to be you, how to succeed in spite of its absence.
The book also has a psychological component to it which focuses on the development of positive working relationships with your bargaining table opponents. Cohen emphasizes the fact that negotiators should never hesitate to ask for additional information at the bargaining table, nor should one be reluctant to show a genuine interest in meeting the needs of others. Recognizing the inevitability of tense moments during the negotiation process, he even provides the most fundamental stall tactics to provide time to formulate a response. For example, he states the “magic words of effective negotiating” are uh, huh, and wha and that each will inevitably offer a few additional seconds to gather your thoughts. Along these same lines, he suggests you look for a new writing instrument or excuse yourself to use the restroom if you need extra time to formulate a strategic move.
Tapping into his decades of negotiation experience — working for an impressive list of Fortune 500 Companies and participating in some our country’s most difficult negotiations -- Cohen presents his techniques intertwined with stories from the trenches. This results in the presentation of both a wealth of information and an enjoyable read. In fact, the professional, personal, and historical stories Cohen uses to provide concrete examples of his techniques are so amusing that, unless you are paying close attention, you will likely forget that this book’s purpose is to educate as well as entertain.