99 Negotiation Strategies is a book by a professional negotiator. He has a legal background and has taken part in hundreds of high stakes negotiations. The book is a list of all the tactics he has ever used or seen used. He admits that most of the negotiations he is part of are distributive in nature: when one side wins the other loses. These tactics, however, can be used in both cooperative and competitive negotiations.
The book is a list from 1 – 99 of negotiation strategies. Each strategy takes up between one and a few paragraphs, almost always contained on a single side of a page.
Review & Criticism
The book does a great job of clearly explaining the tactics and when they are useful. There are all the standard negotiation tactics in this book. He tells you to be willing to anchor first, have a backup plan, and to use scarcity. The text also has tactics that can be considered more advanced. The book does lean towards more distributive, win lose negotiation strategies, like put things in the contract and hope they don’t find them.
There were some sections that drew from other areas of science to make interesting points. These points gave backing to why certain negotiation strategies are commonly used. For example, he talks about prospect theory. Prospect theory surmises that people more heavily focus on losses than they do gains. There isn’t a deep academic recitation on prospect theory, which can be good or bad depending on what you are looking for, but he does tell you how to leverage it.
Some of the strategies were repetitive, or were simply flipped versions of strategies that were listed before. For example you might read that you should use scarcity. But then he might take another section to say stop them from using scarcity by showing that you have many options. This reversal technique could be useful for beginners but not so much for advanced negotiators.
Overall, we see this book as a good reference in your shelf if you are an intermediate or beginner negotiator. It is a great way to fill in the holes in your game with new techniques and counters. It will help you spot strategies other people are using against you. You will learn how to counter them.
You will enjoy this book if you expect a list of techniques. Don’t expect to get any full scale negotiation plans or strategies. This book doesn’t have anything that says 1st do X, then do Y, conditionally try L, which you can then follow up with Z. It is up to you to learn how and in what order to apply the tricks.
Because of this, we don’t suggest you read the book straight through. It is just a list of techniques. Try turning it into a daily exercise where you open a page in order to “add one more technique to my belt.” This leverages the book’s terse nature into an advantage. It doesn’t waste your time and you can pull out high quality nuggets from it.
If you are advanced it is unlikely any of this will be significantly new to you. There are interesting points about strategy and science of specific techniques, but you probably already understand why they work intuitively.
Chapter By Chapter Summary
Normally we would have an in depth summary of each chapter. But because each chapter is usually half to one whole page. Therefore, we will include only a smattering of a few chapters, summarized.
Chapter 5: Seek agreement on broad (favorable) principles.
Rosen suggests that you start a negotiation by getting people to agree to some external set of guidelines or rules. This will build an initial agreement right into the first interaction. It will also give you quite a bit of power. He talks about how inexperienced people start negotiations with out any schedule or rules or framework. This is a mistake since you can leverage those rules.
Chapter 13: Always pause before responding to an offer.
You shouldn’t respond quickly to a counter demand or to an offer. This is because it will make you look desperate. They could think your initial demands weren’t legitimate. You could look tired and ready to capitulate. Instead of rushing, slow down. Slow responses make you look better prepared, in control, and not needy.
Chapter 31: Bundle terms together.
Senators use this strategy. They take the piece of legislation and attach ‘riders.’ The group must then approve the whole bill or reject it. To do this, group terms you know your opponent wants with terms you want. These might mean making one large concession and appearing to ask for a bunch of small terms in exchange.
Chapter 47: Attack overconfidence by challenging underlying assumptions.
Prepare for negotiations by figuring out what your opponent’s main arguments will be. Then study ways to attack the main points. (One way to build the tallest tower is to knock down everyone else’s.)
Chapter 60: Linguistically frame your position to match a position demanded by your target.
Think about the words, phrases, synonyms, and other ways you describe your points. Describe what you want in a way that makes it seem helpful to the other side. Make it so your demands look like tools for the other side to accomplish their goals.
Chapter 69: Never take no.
People often claim to make a final offer. Rosen points out that he has been told this many times. He plans on keeping going “five to ten more rounds following an alleged ‘final offer’.” He has a success rate of 85% when he does this after they say “final offer.”
Chapter 86: Use consistency principles.
People like to be seen as consistent. Leverage this need by getting them to agree to smaller things early on. Then use those smaller agreements to get a big agreement later. He suggests using this technique in combination with chapter 60: tactically describe first agreement points so you can build on them later.
Chapter 87: Explain aggression as excitement.
Use an aggressive tone, posture, and movements. Pass them off as excitement, eagerness, and anticipation. You are only acting this way because you see a good deal for both sides and want to push it forward.
Where Can I Buy This Book
Check out the current book price here.
If you are looking for other posts on how to leverage manipulation in business or social settings, check out our guide to manipulation techniques here. You will find quite a bit of overlap between win lose negotiation and manipulation.