Conversations are crucial for winning in business. Clear communication is the starting point for negotiation. A lot has been written about the art of striking winning deals, sales and so on. Here are three books on the subject you can read to master conversation skills and more.
“Susan Scott has delivered a wealth of uncommon common sense in Fierce Conversations. Her warmth and skill as a coach and counsellor provide the healthy nudges, we all need from time to time to jump in, get engaged, and manage ourselves and the world around us more directly positively, deal with analysis, and productively. It’s a reminder that the way out is through, and she provides great techniques for navigating the passage.”
- David Allen, Author of Getting Things Done
Susan Scott has authored the ‘Fierce’ series and has made a mark with her Fierce Conversations. The book explores principles and practices that can help one engage in conversations that interrogate reality, provoke learning, tackle tough challenges and enrich relationships, no matter how sensitive the topic. The executive coach turned author, Scott believes, “conversation is relationship.”
Fierce Conversations is about transforming the dialogue and pivoting towards growth. The book meanders into areas hitherto left untouched by other such books on negotiations like “handling strong emotions on both sides of the table”. It offers seven principles of fierce conversations and defines a fierce conversation as one, where you “come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real”.
Simply, in its essence, the book speaks about bringing authenticity to the table and solving real problems or conflicts with honest dialogue. The principles are general and can be implemented in most areas of life. Scott was inspired to author the book following 10,000 hours of conversations with senior executives. The seven principles of conversation defined by Scott are about mastering the courage to interrogate, being present, tackling the toughest challenge, obeying instincts, taking responsibility for one’s emotional wake, and finally being able to allow silence to do the ‘heavy lifting’ in conversation.
“Your business, basically your entire life, comes down to your performance in crucial conversations, and these tools will give you the edge you need...It’s required reading for my employees because I use the lessons in this book every single day, and I want them to, too.“
- Jason McCarthy, CEO, Goruck
An insightful read by a former international FBI hostage negotiator, Chriss Voss has put together tried and tested strategies for high-stakes negotiations. The book is for those who need to pick up a tip or two on being persuasive in their interactions at work or in life. The best part of the book is how it brings about actionable insights that one can follow while facing day-to-day negotiations. Voss, who has been a professional negotiator, is also the founder of The Black Swan Group, which helps people deal with complicated negotiations. The book helps you narrow down on core negotiation skills and starts with the art of active listening. Chris Voss thinks that while most people are impatient and jump in to speak at meetings or while negotiating across the table, it is the listener who always has more power in the conversation as they absorb more information.
He brings out some old classics like mirroring techniques, neural resonance, and more so how people feel they are “understood”. The book suggests verbal triggers to get help get the conversation rolling back to one’s side and other insights that could help in the negotiations of business deals or contracts. “The goal of listening is to make prospects feel safe enough to express what they want and build the trust to begin a real conversation,” Voss defines.
"A fast, entertaining read that should be required reading for anyone who deals with people. Highly recommended."
- Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager
The book is based on negotiation power dynamics and the author calls them a list of negotiating gambits that can help one become an ‘astute’ negotiator. The book has over the years changed how people think of negotiation. It rubbishes the idea of win-win negotiations and teaches that the way you negotiate can “get you everything you want and still convince the other side that they won”. The book has 20 ‘sure fight’ negotiating gambits with detailed examples of how to negotiate over the telephone, e-mail, or via instant messages. It also has information about how one can read body language, listen to hidden meanings in conversation, deal with people from other cultures, and more.
The latest, revised edition of the book shows how one can negotiate over the telephone, by e-mail, and via instant messages and also how to deal with people from other cultures and become an expert mediator. It also shows how one can recognise unethical tactics, key principles of the 'Power Negotiating' strategy, why money is not as important as everyone thinks, negotiating pressure points, understanding the other party, and gaining the upper hand, and also provides an analysis of different negotiating styles.
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