("How to Negotiate Like a Pro," Mary Greenwood, Third Edition, 126 pages, iUniverse Books, 2017, $13.99)
Full disclosure: I know Mary Greenwood, the author of this book, "How to Negotiate Like a Pro," now in its third edition. We met at a Florida writers group several years ago and struck up a friendship. At the time, Mary lived in South Beach. She's since moved to Saint Augustine, Fla. An attorney and HR professional, she worked for the City of Miami Beach negotiating labor contracts and was also a volunteer tour guide for the Miami Design Preservation League. She’s been there and knows of what she speaks.
Her books (which include "How to Mediate Like a Pro," and "How To Interview Like a Pro") are written in an approachable, succinct, reader-friendly, no-nonsense manner.
These are do-able guides to achieving one’s goals, and winning in a variety of situations. The rules can be applied successfully in difficult work-related situations (pay disputes, labor contracts, how to close a deal, negotiating the highest possible salary) as well as in everyday hassles (hotels that don’t honor reservations, interacting with unethical individuals) and in tricky or interpersonal relations (dealing with one’s spouse or ex-spouse, haggling on eBay).
Negotiation strategies are key, and Greenwood is very clear as to how strategizing works to one’s ultimate benefit. She is the pro who will guide you to becoming a pro. Her subtitle is "How To Resolve Anything, Anytime, Anywhere," and she lives up to it.
The exciting addition to this third edition is Chapter 7, "How To Resolve Disputes With Difficult People…." Why did she come back and include this section in the book? She says it best:
…I was getting a lot of questions and comments at book signings and festivals about negotiating with difficult people, specifically liars, narcissists and bullies and negotiators who were unreasonable, unpredictable and unprepared. I decided to devote a full chapter to this topic and outline techniques for various types of difficult people. Whether the other side is crazy or just temperamental, it is still possible to get a settlement although it may take a lot longer.
And if there was ever a time for such a timely hunk of advice, it surely is now, beginning with the advice not to “let the other side’s behavior get under your skin”.
Be totally focused so that the other side’s behavior does not get “under your skin” or that the other side does not get “into your head.” The best way to respond to someone who says something totally absurd or ridiculous is to ignore it…
In her section on dealing with narcissists, she writes, “The key to negotiating with narcissists is that the negotiation is all about the narcissists.” She goes on, “They lack empathy and don’t care about you or your point of view.” Then, “It seems counter-intuitive, but if the other side is a narcissist, this can actually be an advantage for you.” Why? Because, she continues, “The narcissist wants to win, so if you can make the narcissist a winner, you are halfway there. You have to frame your issues so that the other side sees it as a win not loss.” The end result? “As long as he gets a win and he looks good, the subject matter itself is not as important. It is a classic case of form over substance.”
Greenwood’s twelve tips for dealing with a narcissist are spot-on. I especially like #2: “Leave your ego at the door.” As she writes: “Your intent is to make the other side look good. That may mean that you may have to look bad. It is really like acting. Your role is to make the other side look good no matter what transpires.”
Number 5 is pretty good advice, too: “Never interrupt a narcissist.” She notes, “It is always rude to interrupt anyone but interrupting a narcissist can be very offensive to the narcissist. However, don’t be offended if a narcissist interrupts you because narcissists think that what they have to say is more important than what you have to say.”
About pathological liars, she writes: #1 Tell the truth… ending with #7, Get everything in writing. In Tip #6, she advises “taking copious notes”!
And discussing bullies….who often display the traits of narcissists and liars…. Greenwood introduces this section with:
We have all seen a bully in the school yard, but lately bullies have been in the workplace and politics. When I think of a bully, these are some of the words that come to mind: control, bluster, threatening, aggressive, hostile, intimidating, accusatory, annoying, harassing, insulting, discriminatory, impatient, and taunting. Physically a bully tries to be intimidating by shaking his fist or raising his voice. In some ways, the bully is a one-trick pony. Being a bully is the trick and there isn’t much else. When she doesn’t get her way, she plays the bully role and tries to intimidate the other side.
The last group of difficult people Greenwood discusses are those who are unethical. Here she is extremely clear that the meeting must be recorded and that a third party should accompany you. She further says that you must be “willing to walk away”, as “Compromising your ethics is not a good reason to stay in a negotiation.”
What served as her inspiration for writing this particularly brilliant guide:
I wrote the original book as a result of my experience as a union negotiator. I had an Aha! moment when I realized that the rules of negotiation for union contracts are the same as negotiating anything in life, such as negotiation with your boss, your spouse, your bank, your siblings, and buying a car.