Negotiation Skills

Ivy Exec Reviews: 6 Books That Will Make You a Formidable Negotiator


Salary negotiations are only part of the picture. From advocating for a raise to improving your vacation time, work environment, and more, negotiation skills are crucial to your career. Your ability to negotiate determines your career growth and impacts your relationships with your managers, direct reports, business partners, and potential employers.

No matter who you are, it’s essential to know how to advocate for your interests. To help you hone these skills, we’ve gathered the following reading suggestions from the Ivy Exec team.

Ivy Exec Reviews 6 Reading Essentials for Business Negotiations


Robert Cialdini

Ivy Exec reviewsAfter 35+ years of experience studying the psychology of influence and persuasion, Cialdini centers Influence around six universal principles:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Scarcity
  3. Authority
  4. Consistency
  5. Liking
  6. Consensus

These six principles, Cialdini argues, explain why people say “yes” to a proposal. Many of these effects are subtle: for instance, if a restaurant server gives their table free mints after dinner, the customers on average leave a tip that’s about 3% larger compared to diners who were just given the check. In this scenario, the diners are responding to the principle of reciprocity—because their server “gifted” them a mint, they feel compelled to return the favor.

Cialdini employs decades of research to demonstrate the effects of these principles on people’s decision-making. He offers advice for how to leverage these behaviors ethically in addition to suggestions on how to defend against them. If you enjoy this book, you should also check out the author’s most recent bestseller, Pre-Suasion. This new book focuses on the pivotal moment before the pitch is delivered. 

Who is the book for? 

  • Individuals in sales, marketing, and mergers + acquisitions.
  • People who are interested in driving the pitch—and exercising judicial restraint when they’re on the receiving end.

Never Split the Difference 

Chris Voss

Ivy Exec ReviewsWritten by a former FBI hostage negotiator, Never Split the Difference is a refreshing counterpoint to twentieth-century methodologies that failed to address the emotional impact of negotiation. Voss emphasizes “tactical empathy” to connect with the other party through neural resonance—essentially paying attention to the other party’s emotional cues and putting yourself in their position.

Voss’s approach relies on quick thinking and being responsive to the other party, but the book is still grounded in pragmatism and preparation. He breaks down a negotiation step-by-step and illustrates different responses and tones (“Late-night FM DJ voice,” for example). While drawing on complex psychological theories, the book is straightforward and approachable: Voss’s advice is “battle-tested” and applies to the real world outside the classroom.

Who is the book for? 

  • Everyone. As the book cover states, “Life is a series of negotiations you should be prepared for: buying a car, negotiating a salary, buying a home, renegotiating rent, deliberating with your partner.” This book equips you with the insight you’ll need to advocate for yourself at every level. 

Ivy Exec reviews 7 books on excelling in a creative industry.

Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate 

Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro

Ivy Exec reviewsBeyond Reason explores setting the emotional tone of a negotiation using five core principles:

  1. Appreciation
  2. Affiliation
  3. Autonomy
  4. Status
  5. Role

By addressing these five categories, Fisher and Shapiro explain how a negotiator can facilitate productive problem-solving that benefits all parties. It takes a forward-thinking approach to build trust over time and develop a relationship that leads to future opportunities.

Beyond Reason is a collaboration between Roger Fisher, bestselling author of Getting to Yes and founding director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, and Daniel Shapiro, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and world-renowned expert on conflict resolution.

Who is the book for? 

  • People involved in a high-stakes dispute. 
  • Negotiators who expect pushback. 
  • Business leaders who “listen to their gut” and follow their instincts. 

Negotiation Genius

Deepak Malhotra and Max H. Bazerman

Ivy Exec reviews

Written by two professors of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, Negotiation Genius is one of the most highly acclaimed books in the genre. Psychology Today calls it “beautifully illustrated” with “real-world examples culled from political history” and the authors’ careers. The book is so influential, in part, because of the authors’ professional backgrounds—it’s easy to apply their strategies to the world of business because that’s where these ideas were first developed and put into practice. In addition to being informative, Negotiation Genius is also exceptionally well-written and engaging. By using historical events to explain core concepts, the book adopts a narrative quality that’s enjoyable to read. 

If you like this book, you should also check out Malhotra’s latest book titled Negotiating the Impossible (2016). Negotiating the Impossible focuses on de-escalating conflicts—one of the examples Malhotra outlines, for instance, is the Cuban Missile Crisis. While you’re unlikely to encounter this level of aggression during a salary negotiation, this text can be instrumental for learning how to manage a team or mediate between parties. 

Who is the book for? 

  • Anyone who wants to learn how to detect dishonest behavior (there’s a whole chapter titled “Confronting Lies and Deception”). 
  • Creative thinkers who know how to “expand the pie” to make a deal more attractive to every party. 

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

Ivy Exec reviewsWith over 3 million copies sold worldwide, Crucial Conversations examines how to transform an emotional conversation into a safe and open dialogue. It includes step-by-step advice on how to regulate your emotional responses to produce the best possible outcome in any interaction—from a negotiation to a heated disagreement. The book’s primary focus leans heavily toward self-awareness and nonverbal communication cues, but the book also covers key points about the art of persuasion and how to apply these strategies to the workplace. 

The authors are also founding members of the leadership training program VitalSmarts, which uses behavioral science to help organizations boost performance.

Who is the book for? 

  • Individuals who feel defensive or “freeze up” when they’re nervous.
  • Negotiators who want to exert more control over their emotional responses.  
  • People who want to learn how to navigate sensitive conversations, including (but not limited to) negotiations. 

Negotiating at Work: Turn Small Wins Into Big Gains 

Deborah Kolb and Jessica L. Porter

Ivy Exec reviewsThis book focuses on negotiations related to career growth and how to advocate for yourself in the real world, with all its imperfections. Whereas most other guides on this list focus on a single event, Kolb and Porter address the overall context that informs how a negotiation unfolds. They acknowledge influencing factors like organizational culture and social power dynamics (for example, gender bias), and explore the lasting impact one negotiation can have on an individual and their peers. The authors help put into perspective our definition of leadership and explain how to become more assertive.

Negotiating at Work also introduces strategies for self-empowerment, including advice on how to build confidence, project authority, and command respect.

Who is the book for? 

  • Readers who want to learn how to campaign for a promotion, raise, or better working conditions. 
  • People (especially women and minorities) who need to “negotiate against the status quo.”
  • Anyone who wants more control at work.

Want to become a better leader? Check out Ivy Exec Reviews Essential Reading for CEOs.


About the Author

Rachel Lake is a writer and editor in New York City. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. To get in touch with Rachel, contact her on LinkedIn.