The Seven Strategies of Master Negotiators

Dr. Brad McRae

Dr. Brad McRae was trained in negotiation and influence by our colleagues at the Harvard Negotiation Project. He teaches negotiation and developed his seven strategies not only from his work in the field but from interviewing people he calls Master Negotiators. The Seven Strategies of Master Negotiators includes selections from his interviews with 21 Canadian Master Negotiators, all who make use of the seven strategies.

While you might not recognize all 21 names of the Master Negotiators McRae interviewed, you'll certainly recognize many of them: Lloyd Axworthy, former Foreign Affairs Minister, Buzz Hargrove, President of the Canadian Auto Workers' Union, Frank McKenna, former Premier of New Brunswick, Isadore Sharp, Chairman and CEO Four Seasons Hotels, Annette Verschuren, President Home Depot Canada. The insights and experiences of all 21 Master Negotiators make for interesting reading and show with real world examples, how successfully theory can be put into practice.

The book is well organized with a chapter devoted to each of the seven strategies. There are exercises, worksheets, tips and techniques to help you become familiar with the material in each chapter:

1.    Build the Future with Creative Solutions
2.    Come to the Table Incredibly Well-Prepared
3.    Create and Claim Maximum Value
4.    Understand Negotiating Styles
5.    Manage the Negotiation Process
6.    Build Strategic Alliances
7.    Become a Life-Long Learner

It's worth buying the book just for the chapter on the second strategy Come to the Table Incredibly Well-Prepared. Here, McRae provides a step by step process that would improve negotiations if we all simply followed his advice. From working on your opening statement to identifying your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) to trying to identify the other party's BATNA to developing options for you and the other party, the negotiation is sure to be richer and more successful for both parties when you're prepared. As McRae says "Master Negotiators come to the table incredibly well-prepared, while their amateur counterparts come to the table overly confident and under prepared."

At Common Outlook, part of our philosophy is to embrace life long learning and it was gratifying to read that not only McRae but each of the 21 Master Negotiators is devoted to life long learning. McRae identifies five activities he feels are necessary to become a life long learner:

1.    Obtain meaningful feedback
2.    Learn from coaches, mentors and mastermind groups
3.    Learn to think like the experts
4.    Interview the best negotiators and influencers you can find
5.    Learn from the best books, movies and courses

It's not often that movies are mentioned as a source for learning about negotiation. For those who prefer movies to books, some of the recommended movies are: Apollo 12, A Few Good Men, Gandhi, Schindler's List and the classic, 12 Angry Men.

For those who have attended Common Outlook's Effective Negotiation Skills workshop, the concepts in The Seven Strategies of Master Negotiators dovetail nicely with what you learned in the workshop. The Seven Strategies of Master Negotiators  is a Common Outlook recommended read.

This review was written by Helen Latimer 

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