As an instructor at a prestigious negotiation program I like correctly observed, many, maybe most books on negotiations are little more than collections of war stories or Machiavellian tricks.
Sarah Federman’s new book Transformative Negotiations is light on dirty tricks but provides a sometimes head-spinning large collection of characters, anecdotes, tips, and examples.
It sets itself two ambitious goals:
- Taking the subject of negotiation out of the boardroom and into the lives of ordinary people.
- Using negotiation approaches in a way that will help society through win-win-win approaches.
It goes a long way toward achieving these ambitious goals. Those looking for new and thoughtful approaches to negotiation, as well as its goal of advancing social justice, will find it invaluable.
There are many things to like about Transformative Negotiation, not the least of which is that the author avoids common problems with contemporary academic writing:
1. She writes passionately and persuasively about the importance of supporting disadvantaged groups while avoiding coming across as “woke” in the way so many find gratingly condescending on today’s university campuses.
2. She speaks clearly, eschewing turgid prose and impenetrable scholar-speak. For example, rather than engaging in Foucaultian analysis of the dynamics of power, she suggests two simple tests to identify the most powerful in an organization:
- a. Who can express anger without negative consequences?
- b. Who, if they did the same thing, would be dismissed or reprimanded?
Gotta love any professor who can write so clearly and persuasively.