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Reader’s Review, February 2012

By John D. Baker

Secrets of Power Negotiating: Inside Secrets from a Master Negotiator,
15th Anniversary Edition

By Roger Dawson
320pp. The Career Press, Pompton Plains, NJ, 2011
Paperback (USA) $16.99

Roger Dawson is a well-known figure in negotiation training, having presented his ideas to negotiators across the world through his seminars, audio cassettes, articles and books for over his thirty years. Many readers will remember his work through having read the first edition of this book and by being introduced to his long-term theme of Power Negotiating.

This fifteenth anniversary volume is the third edition of Dawson’s original book on Power negotiating. It is as alive today as it has been throughout the intervening fifteen years. This iteration is expanded and revised in many respects, enhanced, for examples, by new sections on body language and the hidden meanings in conversation.

Some readers will be surprised to learn that Roger Dawson’s power negotiating is based on a Win-Win approach. Power negotiating, as defined by Mr. Dawson, is neither Positional Negotiation nor a game of tricks as some persons have asserted. Win-Win negotiation is at the core of his work.

Nowhere in his book is that Win-Win position more clear than in Dawson’s list of benchmarks for assessing negotiation performance itself. Dawson asserts that success in negotiation should be measured by the following elements, as examples:

  • everyone should feel like a winner
  • both sides should demonstrate that they care about the other’s objectives
  • the parties believe the process was fair to both sides
  • both sides conclude eager to follow the agreement (pp 335-336).

This evaluation criterion should and is at the heart of Win-Win negotiation.

The method of approach clear, the rest of the book is essentially a “how-to” manual on negotiation. It is the vast bulk of the book. Here, the author is clearly at this prime.

Dawson chooses to call his selected negotiating techniques gambits, a term he borrows from chess to identify each of them as strategic moves. Each of the gambits is explained, illustrated by anecdotes and balanced with countermoves that might be employed to block or divert the gambit in play. Examples of such gambits are such techniques as ranging from such basics as asking for more than you expect to achieve; always flinching at proposals; and playing the reluctant buyer or seller, and a host of other negotiating moves. The list is a rich one and in many ways seems almost encyclopedic.

Of particular value as the gambits are introduced and expounded are the myriad of illustrative anecdotes and wise principles of advice that accompany each of them. Every experienced negotiator will recall most if not all of these gambits from their own negotiating experiences. It is a shared heritage that many of us remember vividly: encounters with Good Guy/Bad Guy tag teams, nibbling, and learning the power of tapering concessions. Along with the usual gambits, of course, Dawson has included the unfair techniques of red herrings, cherry picking, and deliberate mistakes and counter moves for each.

The book is almost a compendium of advice, illustrative anecdotes, and strategic thrusts and parries. Its range is broad, continuing on to examining how to handle everything from dealing with various sources of pressure through the impacts of cultural differences to using handling multiple types of power.

For the experienced negotiator, there are few secrets to find in this book, but there is a great deal of valuable advice. For the new or occasional negotiator, the book is a goldmine of information on recognizing and using common techniques and effectively managing a host of negotiating situations.

Whether you have not read Roger Dawson’s work or simply wish to revisit it, this is your edition. It is the sort of book that belongs on any negotiator’s shelf.

Secrets of Power Negotiating is an inclusive and comprehensive negotiation skills book, well-organized and easy to follow with its compact descriptions, well-chosen anecdotes and point-counterpoint structure.

Highly recommended.

John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine (February 2012) Copyright © 2012 The Negotiator Magazine