March 17, 2006
A mediator and negotiator’s reading list
~ written by Harold Paddock
Learning to mediate or negotiate by reading a book is kind of like trying to learn a sport or how to drive only by reading a textbook. You really do need hands-on experience. You have to get that intuitive feel from practice that makes everything go smoothly and almost unconsciously. But there is value in learning concepts and ideas before getting in a situation where someone's well being (including yours) is at stake. With this caveat, here is a basic reading list for all mediators and negotiators.
The granddaddy of all negotiation books is Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton. It is grounded in common sense, but has profound insight into different and better ways to settle disputes and create value in transactions. A newer book in the same vein is Beyond Winning by Robert Mnookin, Scott Peppet and Andrew Tulumello, which updates Getting To Yes and offers sound advice for both attorneys and clients.
Beyond Winning is analytical but also laced with practical examples of value creation and the dynamics behind a negotiation. For those of you who are a bit technically or mathematically inclined, I would suggest Negotiation Analysis by Howard Raiffa. If you can handle some high school level graphs and charts, this book is excellent in its blend of psychology, decision analysis, group decision-making and game theory. Trust me, it's not that tough. If you are interested in bigger issues, such as thinking about systems for resolving recurring disputes (nice advice for long term clients), you should consider Getting Disputes Resolved by William Ury, Jeanne Brett and Stephen Goldberg.
Negotiating Rationally by Max Bazerman and Margaret Neale is less technical than Negotiation Analysis but no less insightful and probably an easier read. A new book this year is Improvisational Negotiation by Jeffery Krivis. While the title says negotiation, it is a wonderful series of mediation case studies where each situation presents a different problem to be solved and varying lessons to be learned by both mediators and negotiators. If you are interested in a general introduction to game theory (which has broad application to negotiation, mediation and law in general), I would recommend Prisoners Dilemma by William Poundstone, and The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod. Both of those will start you on a path that leads to a better understanding of how people interact.
So that's my personal list. Do you have any favorite books you would recommend on negotiation and mediation? Good reading (and good dispute resolving) to all!