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Reader’s Review, September 2013

By John D. Baker


By Brian Tracy
112pp. New York, N.Y.: AMACOM, 2013
Hardcover (USA) $9.95

Brian Tracy’s new book entitled Negotiation is unlike nearly every other book I have reviewed over the years for The Negotiator Magazine. Ordinarily, my reviews begin with a look at the writer’s impressive academic record and cite their expert knowledge of negotiation as a focal skill. In this case, however, Brian Tracy is a high school drop-out who began his business career working in sawmills, factories, construction projects and as a member of a freighter crew. From this base, he went into real estate development and finally into training and business consulting. Now, after more than 30 years as the Chairman, CEO, and principal creative force in his business, Mr. Tracy is the author of some 55 books, produced and recorded dozens of DVDs and spoken to over five million persons in 61 countries who have attended his seminars, workshops, and speeches.

Brian Tracy’s training topics include personal success, sales, leadership, time management and a wide range of other business, psychological and historical areas. The book under review today is his newest topic of negotiation skills. This volume is one of the first in Mr. Tracy’s new series entitled: The Brian Tracy Success Library. Let us see what we might learn in this volume.

The organization of Negotiation is formulaic. The weakness in such a design for the student of negotiation is a major one, of course. Essentially, the book’s approximately 100 pages on negotiation are divided into 21 chapters, each presenting 21 negotiation topics. Each topic appears to be allotted five pages.

Under this plan, each topic receives roughly the same amount of space. Apparently, all topics are more or less important and complex than every other every other topic. The result, in my view, is to make the book more of an overview of negotiation than a negotiation skills manual.

All that said, the author’s general approach to the art of negotiation itself is a useful one. Tracy is correct that negotiator’s consider everything to be negotiable; see the value of things as subjective and therefore prices as arbitrary; and know that negotiation can be learned and that it is one of the essential and most valuable skills individuals can acquire. The author is also right on when he states that “life may be viewed as one long, extended negotiating session” (page 1).

What is far less clear are the negotiating skills necessary to make readers able negotiators. I found the skills section uneven and much less than would be necessary for a complete guide to the field.

On the positive side, Brian Tracy makes clear that one-time negotiations efforts must be distinct from those designed to build or strengthen long-term relationship goals; that preparation is critical to negotiating success; and that excellent negotiators are creative rather than competitive, long-term thinkers, and open-minded vessels rather than manipulative tricksters. What is missing, however, are many, many of the how-to’s which are essential to the process. The future negotiator will need to learn far more about negotiating skills to become an effective force in the field.

Readers will be pleased to find that the author has included an Index.

This is a book of limited interest to both experienced negotiators and new negotiators.

John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine  September 2013 Copyright © 2013 The Negotiator Magazine