Bargaining with the Devil – When to Negotiate, When to Fight

Title: Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight
by Robert Mnookin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 1416583327

From the Publisher:

Mnookin, head of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, combines business, history, philosophy and psychology to present a complete set of tools for confronting “Devils,” defined as any individual perceived as a harmful adversary.

Examining eight conflicts, including Winston Churchill’s decision to reject negotiations with Adolf Hitler, Nelson Mandela’s decision to initiate discussions with South Africa’s apartheid government, IBM’s discovery that its largest competitor copied its software, poisoned labor-management issues in the San Francisco Symphony, and examples from his professional experience, Mnookin provides a straightforward account of the deliberative options when facing a “Faustian tension between pragmatism and principle.”

Along with cogent analysis, Mnookin suggests four general guidelines for determining the best course of action:

  • Systematically compare the cost-benefit ratios of negotiating or fighting
  • Collect advice from others
  • Tip the scales in favor of negotiation before fully committing
  • Don’t allow moral intuition to override pragmatic assessment

While Mnookin admits his suggestions are “hardly the last word,” they will help decision-makers focus their thoughts in challenging situations.