FRIENDLY PERSUASION: My Life as a Negotiator by Bob Woolf

FRIENDLY PERSUASION: My Life as a Negotiator

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Sound, user-friendly counsel on negotiation, which attorney Woolf defines as ""the art of the possible, a road filled with detours called compromises."" While the author's occasionally homiletic tips may be gainfully employed in situations ranging from domestic disputes through geopolitical crises, they're most relevant in commercial settings. A Boston-based lawyer who had a successful criminal practice before he began representing his first professional athlete in 1964, Woolf (Behind Closed Doors, 1976) now boasts a worldclass clientele encompassing the oddly coupled likes of Larry Bird, Doug Flutie, Larry King, New Kids on the Block, Itzhak Perlman, Camelia Sadat, and Carl Yastrzemski. As a veteran agent of high-profile celebrities, the author is able to draw on his own experience for instructive examples of the strategy, tactics, and techniques of effective bargaining. In Woolf's aboveboard book, ultimatums are folly, and splitting the difference makes scarcely better sense. The trick is to determine what people want--and will accept. In this conciliatory context, go-betweens and rivals can address underlying needs before positions polarize, improving the chances for an agreement that provides something for everyone. But while Woolf insists that it's possible to disagree without becoming disagreeable, he's clearly no patsy. In addition to identifying ways to gain an edge if not leverage, he puts paid to the notion that tit must be given for tat when haggling reaches a climactic stage. Among other approaches, Woolf commends pinpointing all sources of dissatisfaction and dealing with them as separate matters. Using anecdotal ease studies, he also offers down-to-earth advisories on responding to adversaries who resort to tricks of the trade--e.g., escalation, late-breaking demands, stonewalling etc. In brief, the big idea is to remain flexible and be prepared to make intelligent concessions; it also helps to have fallback positions. An accessible and engaging guide for anyone seeking to apply the Golden Rule more productively.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1990
Publisher: Putnam