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Updated: 11 Apr 2021

The Heart and Mind of the Negotiator (Book Review)

the mind and heart of the negotiator


Emotions vs. Thoughts - a perennial question facing negotiators is put under an expert's microscope and examined from many perspectives. Includes tests and examples.

Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Categories: Business, Psychology, Academic
Publication Date: 2006-11-29

by Professor Leigh Thompson

The Opposition of Emotions and Logical Thinking

The author is a recognized and distinguished Professor of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. This highly recommended book is logically constructed and broken down in painstaking detail.

The book’s title hints at the opposing forces that a negotiator must recognize and overcome. It’s a competition between our emotions and logical thinking tugging powerfully at our skills as negotiators. Through a detailed examination of the many emotional and intellectual processes we might undergo as negotiators, Professor Thompson carefully dissects and lays bare her entire negotiation process, right down to its core.

However, the reader could face information overload, as perhaps there is almost too much detail to absorb. As a result, this compacted overview could do with more examples and stories in some areas. Other areas could have also received more attention.

Unlike in many negotiation books of its kind, in this book, the reader actively participates in the learning process.  One key method is using the provided variety of self-tests that act as valuable learning aids. In addition, the book is peppered with sidebars. These provide a wealth of fascinating tidbits such as real-life summaries, and actual news stories and mini case studies to reinforce and emphasize the book’s subject matter.

Apply Theory in Practice

The Heart and Mind of the Negotiator is not simply based on theory. It’s also premised on extensive research that offers the reader a wealth of prescriptive and practical advice to achieve their negotiation goals. The reader can also delve even deeper into the psychological insights into what motivates human behavior. Knowing this enables us to better understand and uncover the mystery of human interaction, and the interaction and interplay of emotion and thought.

The authors cleverly designed this book into three major parts, each of which being a powerful and useful resource for a negotiator at every level of expertise. Section 1 covers all the essentials of what constitutes both distributive and integrative negotiations. Here, we learn to recognize our shortcomings immediately while expanding our horizons in the same breath. Throughout, the authors offer powerful strategies and advice in creating the right mindset for any negotiation.

Create Your Negotiation Style

Advanced Negotiating Styles (section 2) expands on the introductory learning and coaching techniques already discussed. Here we learn to assess and develop our negotiating style. The reader builds on the basics by being able to understand negotiation relationships while focusing on maintaining a rational approach. We learn to recognize gambits and tactics used by the other side. Importantly, we learn how to overcome most common obstacles thrown our way.

Expand Your Horizons

Section 3 takes our skills up a further notch and sharpens our negotiation perceptions in Application and Special Scenarios. In this section, we analyze (to name a few):

  • The complexities of multiparty negotiations.
  • How to correctly employ or act as third-party negotiators, and the interaction with behind-the-scenes constituents.
  • The impact of information technology.
  • The challenges we might face in the expanding world of international negotiations.

The reader is also provided with an added bonus in the appendix with a self-analysis of rational attitudes, lie detection, and third party interventions. Finally, the authors offer a most practical and useful section that gives guidance on the ever-popular topic of negotiating a job offer.

This book is a must-read for any negotiator who desires to enhance their skill level and gain a detailed understanding of how the authors’ negotiation process can be deployed.

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