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Reader’s Review, May 2013

By John D. Baker

How to Negotiate Effectively, Third Edition

By David Oliver
170pp. London: Kogan Page, 2011
Paperback (USA) $13.07

David Oliver is the Managing Director of Insight Marketing Consultancy Ltd, based in Hampshire UK, and also serves as the associate director of the Marketing Guild. He has spoken to over 200,000 people worldwide, written several books and taught seminars and in-house training around the world on negotiation, professional selling skills, practical marketing and leadership for over twenty years.

The message of this third edition of Mr. Oliver’s book entitled How to Negotiate Effectively remains constant and clear: “Great gain is to be had from negotiating, but only if the task is done effectively.” (p. 8). This book is a solid and well-considered primer on how to do the job correctly.

To sample the book’s caliber and scope, let us touch upon three aspects of the work:

  • How to negotiate effectively
  • The characteristics of effective negotiators
  • How to use this book effectively

How to Negotiate Effectively

Mr. Oliver has given us a solid primer on negotiating and marked the path to effective negotiation well. Filled with precepts of value and backed by a rich array of anecdotes and illustrations, the book is a practical and widely ranging manual that is certain to be a valuable guide to the negotiator. Let us look at some of the information you will find in the book.

We begin with some of Mr. Oliver’s “Ten commandments,” a listing of fundamental guides for the negotiator. These include some old rules of the negotiating table such as “Never say yes first time” (p. 28), “Never give, always trade” (p.59), “Build in some negotiation variables” (p. 75), and a list of additional commandments and precepts. Many of these “rules” are underscored with statements such as “Remembering this will save you money and increase your profit in every single deal you make” (p. 28).

The book moves from guiding principles through tactics, concession strategies and open-ended questions to using social media and the press in negotiations. Its breadth is impressive and its detail is comprehensive. There is no doubt that the path to effective negotiating is within its pages.

Characteristics of effective negotiators

Many negotiating skills manuals portray the effects of particular tactics and strategies, but few give them life as coherent wholes in human form. Mr. Oliver has done so and it serves his reader well. Oliver enumerates and briefly discusses the attributes he believes identify the effective negotiator. Among these qualities are such items as the exercise of leadership authority, a focus on negotiation packages rather than singular elements, control of negotiations from setting agendas through meeting leadership, and the securing and preservation of working alternative as insurance against the risk of a failure of negotiations. It is a rich and valuable list of the qualities which mark effective negotiators. Negotiating growth always needs a role model. This figure is such a candidate.

How to Use this Book Effectively

In closing, I have chosen to highlight Mr. Oliver’s thoroughness and press for the achievement of the purpose of the book itself. The promise of this book, Mr. Oliver asserts “…is destined to fail, destined to be a disappointment. Why? Because you won’t apply it, will you?” (p. 163).

That failure to apply materials we read in books or lessons we learn in seminars is more often the rule than most of us like to admit. Mr. Oliver, however, is determined to make the product of this book the exception. The closing pages of his book center on an intellectual device to assist readers not only remember his lessons and actually apply them to their work. This facet of the work is certainly enough to buy book in itself. I leave it to each reader, however, to assess the real value of his suggestion.


John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine  May 2013 Copyright © 2013 The Negotiator Magazine