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Reader’s Review, September 2014

By John D. Baker

The Hidden Rules of Successful Negotiation and Communication:
Getting to Yes!

By Marc O. Opresnik
136pp. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2014
Hardcover (USA) $59.99

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Mark Opresnik is Professor of Business Economics at the Luebeck University of Applied Sciences, and a visiting professor at several universities including East China University of Science and Technology (Shanghai) and the European Business School (London). Since January 2013 he has also served as Professor of Marketing and a member of the Board of Directions at SGMI Management Institute St. Gallen. This year, Marc Opresnik has also become Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer at Kotler Impact Inc.

Professor Opresnik is a graduate of Hamburg University and holds a Ph.D. degree in Marketing, Human Resource Management and Business English. He is the author and/or co-author of two books on marketing, a wide variety of articles as well as this new work on negotiation.

The root of Professor Opresnik’s Hidden Rules… is an earlier book that uses the same words in its title: Getting to Yes. It is clear that this negotiation skills book is intended by its author as a complimentary volume to the 1983 groundbreaking work on negotiation entitled Getting to Yes, written by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton.

Dr. Opresnik’s book begins with a comparison between competitive versus cooperative bargaining approaches to negotiation and concludes that the method presented in Getting to Yes and still advocated by the “Harvard Negotiation Project” is the superior one. “The cooperative style of negotiation is… more likely to achieve a satisfactory and long-term outcome in negotiations,” the author asserts (p. 6).

His approach to negotiation established, Professor Opresnik proceeds to touch briefly on four principles presented in Getting to Yes he views as central to understanding its approach. And then, defines his book. The purpose of this guide, the author tells us, is to show the reader “how to take into account the… basic principles [of the Harvard Negotiation Project” approach] and so achieve sustainable and better negotiation results” (p. 10).

Finally, let us explore some of the key areas, readers will find in this volume. I have selected parts of two of Dr. Opresnik’s ‘whats’, ‘hows’, and ‘whys’ as illustrative of the sort of techniques in the book: the importance of body language and the power of words.

“Communication”, the author writes, “is not what you say but what is received by your negotiating partner.” (p. 48). What is received we discover is far different than we might guess. Citing research on body language, the author explains that what is received in negotiation may only 7% of our spoken message whereas 55% of the message received is relayed by our physical appearance and 38% read from our tone of voice. Certainly, the effective negotiator needs to learn more about this topic. And more is presented here.

The power of words may also surprise the reader. We learn, for example, that some words should be avoided – words such as actually, but, try, and the absolute taboo word: not. It is a matter of much more consequence than most negotiators may recognize. Again, we find the dangers of vocabulary as well as the research on the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of their usage. There is, of course, much more in this book than this review can cover. I leave that discovery to you, the reader.

This book was originally published in German and so you will find an extensive biography, much of it in German also.


John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine  September 2014 Copyright © 2014 The Negotiator Magazine