Thursday, May 21, 2009

Book review: Negotiating for dummies by Michael Donaldson

Negotiating for dummies – Michael C. Donaldson

This ‘for dummies’ book explains what negotiating is and how to apply it in various situations. The first part deals with preparation and explains what should be done before a negotiation begins. The second part explains the actual process and looks at what questions to ask, how to properly listen and what to look for in body language from the other parties. The third part looks at how to handle situations when they don’t go smoothly. Part four looks at ‘complex’ situations such as international negotiations and negotiating over the phone or internet.
The book is written in a format like all the other ‘for dummies’ books. The author uses movies as examples to help explain a point or method. Clear advice is given for specific situations.

What I gained from reading this book:
I had already read a few books on negotiating before reading this one so I already had a good understanding on the topic. However, if this was the first book I had of read, I would have been very confused by the end. Normally I only review books that I believe give the readers value. This book was fairly poorly written (in my opinion of course) and it seems the author isn’t sure how to teach the topic in a book. If you read the reviews on Amazon, you can see that I’m not the only person who feels this way.

Unfortunately, this book is confusing in its layout and the information given is very general. One example was the chapters on asking questions and listening. If you picked up the book and read those chapters without looking at the title of the book, you wouldn’t have thought it was a book on negotiating. Some of the topics that are discussed are a far stretch from what negotiating is about. The author seems to have trouble staying on topic and the result is a collection of ideas that relate to negotiation, not a clear method or explanation. The references to movies are an example of how the author drifts off topic. Although the movies may provide insight to the topic, the references don’t explain anything on their own.

This book falls far behind the others I have read on the topic. The others (list at end of review) were very detailed in the actual method used and explained BATNA (a term developed by the Harvard Negotiating Institute) very well. This book only mentions BATNA in one single paragraph. Compare that one paragraph to other books that have been written solely explaining BATNA.

NOTE: Although I was truly disappointed with this book, others may benefit from it. If you are after a general look at negotiating and how to improve your ability to discuss issues with people, it may be right for you.

As all the ‘for dummies’ book, this one is very basic to understand and anybody can pick it up and start reading from any chapter. The advice given for specific situations can help those who aren’t sure exactly what they could do.
The references to movies may help you get an idea of what the author is talking about.

The book looks at a great number of different aspects related to negotiating, but doesn’t go into depth into any of those aspects.
There is no clear explanation of a method to use or details to BATNA, which so many other books spend a significant portion of pages explaining and demonstrating.

Recommended for: Not recommended.
This book does not meet my quality requirements for me to recommend to anybody. Although some people may benefit from it, there are better alternatives (listed below).
Negotiation is an important topic that I believe everybody should learn so I recommend you read the reviews I have written for other negotiation books.

Genre: Business skills

Overall rating: 4 out of 10 stars

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

Negotiating for Dummies (For Dummies S.)
Where to from here:
Instead of reading this book, I recommend the following on negotiation:

Alternatively, to understand another way of influencing people, I recommend:

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