Category Archives: Books for Mediators and Negotiators

Resources online and beyond for the aspiring mediator

Connecting to ADR resources onlineGreetings to regular readers, new visitors, and to the members of the Mediation Works Executive Mediation Training, with whom I have the pleasure of working this week. To stimulate your curiosity and to encourage further exploration, I’ve pulled together a list of essential resources for aspiring mediators:

Mediate.com is always at the top of my recommended resource list. This premiere ADR site offers

Recommended mediation reading. The following posts recommend books in print and online articles for the mediation library:

Top ADR blogs. I know of no better resource for staying current with the latest issues in dispute resolution and negotiation than my fellow bloggers, who make it their business to keep abreast of essential news and trends. I collected my own list of essential bloggers to follow. You’ll no doubt find some of your own at the World Directory of ADR Blogs at ADRblogs.com, a site which tracks and catalogs dispute resolution blogs from across the globe, and one of my ongoing web projects.

Online discussion.

Mind and cognition. How people reach judgments and make decisions is of great interest to mediators. For intellectually curious mediators and negotiators interested in staying on top of the results of the latest research, here is a list of the best social and brain science blogs.

Self-awareness tools. Remaining vigilant for cognitive errors can be a challenge but is essential for effective dispute resolution practice. The following tools can help keep minds open.

Negotiation sites, blogs, and podcasts. A list of value-creating resources.

Mediation marketing. I only recommend one site: Dr. Tammy Lenski’s “Making Mediation Your Day Job“. Accept no substitutes. Tammy is the real deal, a successful professional mediator and author with an international reputation and the respect of mediators around the world.

Readers, if you have other suggestions, by all means please feel free to add them in the comment section below.

Listening in at the mediation table: books that teach readers how to talk like a mediator

Ready to trade up from the role play simulations they participated in during their basic mediation training, new mediators look forward to the chance to observe actual mediations, where they can watch experienced professionals mediating real-world disputes. However, as dispute resolution expert and ADR blogger Tammy Lenski recently reminded her readers, finding such opportunities isn’t easy.

Always a collaborative spirit, Tammy was kind enough to share as a download on her site a text that she uses herself in teaching new mediators, What the Fly Heard: What Mediators Say Behind Closed Doors. Written by mediator, facilitator and conflict coach Sandi Adams, MSCM, this book provides the next best thing to observing a real mediation: it pulls up a seat at the mediation table and invites readers to listen in.

Tammy’s post reminds me of two other texts that also allow readers to be the proverbial fly on the wall of the mediation room. What follows is a closer look at all three of these texts – What the Fly Heard – and two more.

What the Fly Heard: What Mediators Say Behind Closed Doors, by Sandi Adams, MSCM, is the text that I wish I had in my hands during my own basic mediation training. Adams writes with authority and sincere encouragement, as she walks readers through the mediation process, offering numerous examples of suggested language along the way. One of the biggest challenges for new mediators is how to reframe intractable problems into issues that can be solved, a technique that invites disputants to see their conflict in fresh ways conducive to problem solving. Adams is ready with examples of difficult disputes, including one involving neighbors and another an Americans with Disabilities Act grievance, with suggestions about how to frame the issues that each present. As a bonus, she also includes information on the difficult issues of impartiality and confidentiality, and recommends resources for mediators committed to professional development.

Together with recommended “do’s”, Adams also warns about potential traps for unwary flies, including statements that can inflame or entrench. The sections titled “Flies in the Ointment – Sticky Comments to Avoid” and “You Could Get Burnt – Don’t Fly Near These”, give examples of statements mediators should avoid. It might have been even more helpful if Adams had suggested alternatives here that would be more appropriate mediator choices. However, Adams, a conscientious professional, makes clear that her book is not a teach-yourself text, with an important reminder for readers that

… this collection is not meant to replace training in any way. It is provided, in fact, as a follow-up to training and as a supplement to a training manual. The examples are to provide modeling only. Training, manuals, and supervised experience are needed to understand the reasons behind certain language and statements, when they might be appropriate and useful, and how to decide when and if mediator intervention is needed at all.

This book, now out of print but fortunately still available as an affordable (and ecologically friendly) PDF download on Tammy’s site, serves as a clearly written, concise orientation to the basics of mediation practice, making it an indispensable teaching tool for new mediators. Like a travel guide for international tourists, What the Fly Heard covers the essentials, and suggests useful phrases for each stage in mediation across a variety of settings, making it an accessible resource for the beginning mediator trying to gain fluency in what can seem like a foreign language. In addition, its realistic examples, many drawn from neighborhood, landlord-tenant, family, and small claims disputes, make this a most welcome addition to the training library of community mediation programs and a dependable text for those who supervise and train new mediators.

While What the Fly Heard is a concise, user-friendly traveler’s guide,  Challenging Conflict: Mediation Through Understanding, by Gary Friedman and Jack Himmelstein of the Center for Mediation in Law, is a mediator’s playbook, with detailed descriptions – and, amazingly, transcripts – of each stage of the mediation process, from contracting to agreement. This book presents the “understanding-based approach of mediation”, a model of practice which controversially rejects the use of the caucus.  It seeks to help parties understand their own interests and other perspectives more completely through direct dialogue, and stresses the importance of parties in conflict working together to make decisions and address the issues they face. It recognizes their joint responsibility for determining whether and how the dispute will be resolved, supporting parties in crafting solutions that are the product of fully informed deliberation. This model of mediation presents a radical departure from the mediation that lawyers and jurists are most familiar with, and will prove challenging, as the authors caution, to the disputants and to the many lawyers who are used to mediation as a kind of non-binding arbitration.

Across 10 case studies that involve a wide  variety of disputes  – from the San Francisco Symphony to a family-run ranch in South America – the authors walk the reader through the stages of mediation. Through the transcripts of dialogue that Friedman and Himmelstein provide, we hear the voices of parties and listen as the mediators, with patience, gentle persistence, and an abiding respect, help parties face emotionally charged conflict to find a sane, humane way out of the wilderness of their dispute. Friedman and Himmelstein illuminate their approach to the mediator’s stock in trade, active listening – a technique they call “the loop of understanding”, and throughout the book demonstrate it repeatedly and masterfully, using it to propel parties and discussions forward. How they handle strong emotion in the mediation room may come as a shock to mediators used to caucusing; Friedman and Himmelstein never seek to contain or cut off emotional expression; instead they see it as an opportunity to take the dispute to a deeper level, locating and untangling its roots.  One addition would make this book an even better resource than it is: an index, so that finding information is easier for readers who return to the book to revisit techniques or concepts.

One caveat: published jointly by the American Bar Association and Harvard Law School, this book is about mediating sophisticated cases involving legal issues and lawyers. The authors strive to “make the law people size”, ensuring that the law doesn’t eclipse other issues, and enabling parties to use the law to inform not control their choices. Nonetheless, discussion of the law plays an integral part in this model of practice. Mediators uncomfortable about discussions about law and legal risk analysis may find the emphasis on the importance of having the “legal conversation” off-putting.  The authors prefer to have that conversation first, ahead of discussion of other issues – although in one case the reader listens in as parties refuse, pushing the authors to reluctantly postpone the discussion of legal issues until later.

If such emphasis leaves you uneasy, be assured that Challenging Conflict is more than a text on mediating legal disputes. And whether you agree with the authors’ approach to the caucus or not, their emphasis on the human dimension to conflict makes this a book worth reading. The numerous transcripts throughout the book demonstrate the complexity and nuance of conflict and the artistry of the mediator’s craft.

Although the case studies involve disputes over complex interpersonal and business issues, potentially intimidating for beginners, this is still a book with something to offer mediators at all skill levels, from the new mediator to the experienced trainer looking for resources for his or her students. The transcripts throughout allow readers to listen in to not just phrases or snatches of conversation, but to entire conversations between mediator and parties, so that readers hear how the mediator responds to what is unfolding in the moment, which gives a realistic sense of the ebb and flow of dialogue at the table. They offer numerous examples of “mediator speak” as the authors demonstrate their skills in helping people find solutions to the seemingly intractable problems they face.  These detailed transcripts serve as the next best thing to being a fly on the wall in a real mediation.

A third book also invites readers to sit at the table: J. Anderson Little’s Making Money Talk: How to Mediate Insured Claims and Other Monetary Disputes. What makes this book unique is its focus on the dynamics of traditional bargaining in issues over money in litigated cases, but with a twist: providing the reader with advice on mediating such disputes in a facilitative not evaluative way. Transcripts throughout the book give real-world examples of the negotiation roadblocks that await and how a facilitative mediator can subtly but surely generate movement and overcome impasse when talks seem stalled out.

This book serves as rebuttal to anyone who thinks that money disputes in civil litigation are best resolved through evaluative mediation – with its heavy reliance on caucusing, dominance by lawyers, lack of direct discussion between parties, and narrow focus on legal issues, which ADR scholar James Alfini once complained “sacrifices effective justice for efficient deal brokering“. Little proves that a facilitative approach can work with money disputes, explaining his own personal philosophy about mediation practice, which is reflected throughout this book:

Before we mediators strive for settlement; before we strive for solutions; before we strive for empowerment, recognition, or transformation; before any of these, we would be well served to strive first for understanding.

Amen, brother. Recognizing that sometimes people will resist integrative approaches to bargaining, Little offers insights into the rhythms of distributive negotiation, decoding for mediators the messages embedded in proposals, rejections, and counterproposals, with recommendations on how to facilitate party movement in a range of common bargaining situations. Using numerous examples, Little explains how familiar mediator tools, such as questioning, reframing, brainstorming, and observations can be put to good use. If you’ve ever wondered what to do when one party says, “I’m not going to bid against myself”, struggled with the question of “Who goes first?” in making an offer, or felt stymied when a disputant protests, “Do they think I’m stupid?”, this is the book for you.

Little won me over immediately with his express rejection of any mediation orthodoxy that anoints a one-size-fits-all approach or declares there to be but one Right Way to mediate – something which critics of Challenging Conflict will no doubt find refreshing. Instead, he assures readers that “the thesis implicit in these pages is that there is no single model of the mediation process that is useful in all types of cases”. Little’s approach emphasizes flexibility and an attuned sensitivity to parties’ states of mind.

Little writes to empower two audiences: mediators with experience in civil litigation but who feel that they are mere “messengers” doing little more than helping parties “swap proposal after proposal” but who strive to be more to their clients; and mediators whose work focuses on the “preservation and enhancement of relationships” rather than the litigated case. For the former, he declares his goal to be “to help them better understand the dynamics of money negotiations,…to build a model of the mediation process that will serve as a road map when traditional bargaining is unavoidable, and to describe how they can assist the parties with traditional bargaining in a facilitative, rather than a directive, way.” For the latter, Little understands that even in family matters “there will be negotiations about money that resist the mediator’s best effort to reframe them into problem-solving discussions.” For these mediators, Little modestly expresses his hope that they “will find in this volume a nugget or two to serve as a supplement to other approaches that are more appropriate for mediations conducted in family or workplace settings.” Indeed they will.

Although this is not a book for new mediators, I recommend this book (and also Challenging Conflict for the same reason) to participants in the basic trainings I teach, particularly those who have experienced only evaluative mediation conducted primarily through caucusing and who doubt that a facilitative approach could work “in their world”.

Negotiation teaching 2.0: new book rethinks current approaches, considers culture

negotiation training - the second generation“But we’ve always done it this way” all too often stifles fresh thinking or bars the way to needed change. That’s why now and again it doesn’t hurt to shake things up.

And shaking things up in the world of negotiation training and teaching is a new book, Rethinking Negotiation Teaching: Innovations for Context and Culture, edited by ADR movers and shakers Chris Honeyman, James Coben, and Giuseppe De Palo. Published by DRI Press, an imprint of the Dispute Resolution Institute at Hamline University School of Law, this book is available at Amazon.com and, best of all, as chapter-by-chapter PDF downloads at the Hamline web site.

In his introduction, Honeyman explains why it’s time to reconsider how negotiation is taught:

The completion of one generation offers a classic moment to take stock in full of any social innovation. By some measures, including market success across a variety of disciplines, the teaching of negotiation has been a great success story, and has been relatively consistent. The cohesiveness and attractiveness of the interest-based model across law, business, public policy, international relations, urban planning, and other fields have been remarkable. From a base of essentially zero courses in 1979, nearly every law or business school in the U.S. now has at least one course in negotiation, and many other countries are at various points on the same path. But that very success has combined with the inchoate nature of an interdisciplinary field to mask the inherent challenge created by the separate discoveries of many disciplines.

Over the last three decades those discoveries have been many. But by and large, they have not yet been incorporated in current teaching in any organized or consistent way. This book, together with the simultaneous publication of the Spring 2009 issue of Nego-tiation Journal, [Volume 25(2), with a special section guest-edited by the same editors], marks the first results of an interdisciplinary effort to make sense of these discoveries. We intend to revamp the teaching of our field across many settings and cultures.

I have already begun to dip into this superb collection of articles. Among those that grabbed my attention are these:

  • Moving Up: Positional Bargaining Revisited“, by Noam Ebner and Yael Efron. (“If we are going to teach our negotiators to succeed in real life, they contend, we are going to have to teach them to bargain. The authors offer a fully worked-out exercise to do just that.”)
  • Reflective Practice in the New Millennium“, by Michelle LeBaron and Mario Patera. (“LeBaron and Patera use their own cultures – Canadian and Austrian respectively – to examine the teaching assumptions of a group of top-flight teachers of negotiation. They discover a number of unstated theoretical assumptions, heavily influenced by Western thought in general and U.S. culture in particular, and demonstrate alternate assumptions which might better guide second generation training”)
  • Death of the Role-Play“, by Nadja Alexander and Michelle LeBaron. (“Alexander and LeBaron argue for a…determination toward removing role-plays from their enthroned position in negotiation training. Their substitution by younger, more vigorous teaching tools, they argue, would be good for the commonweal.”)

If you’re a negotiation trainer or teacher who’s ready to reboot their own thinking about how to teach negotiation, this is one book you’ll want to add to your shelf.

Lawyers are from Mars, clients from Venus: differing perceptions of mediation documented in new book

lawyers and their clients inhabit parallel worldsAfter attending a breakout session at the 2009 ABA Section on Dispute Resolution Spring Meeting titled  “What Do Litigators Want from Mediation?”, I decided it was high time to ask “What about clients?“, writing a post that called for much closer attention to the needs of those directly affected by disputes. I’m glad I did, since it turns out that my readers and I are not the only ones concerned about questions of that kind.

The June 2009 newsletter of the Resolution Systems Institute is out and includes a review of a recent book (PDF), Perceptions in Litigation and Mediation: Lawyers, Defendants, Plaintiffs, and Gendered Parties, by Dr. Tamara Relis, a British Academy Research Fellow in the Law Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science.  Relis’s book describes a vast perceptual gulf between lawyer and client, who hold opposing views and expectations of mediation. From the review:

Relis uses quotes effectively to demonstrate the parallel worlds lawyers and parties inhabit. Moving chronologically from parties’ aims in litigation through their experiences with mediation, the quotes show that lawyers’ and clients’ views and experiences were often completely different. When asked what the plaintiffs wanted from litigation, lawyers unanimously stated it was entirely, or primarily, money. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, discussed a need for explanation, admission of fault by the doctor and/or hospital, and apology. Money was not their focus. These parallel worlds had a significant impact on the cases, the mediations and the resolutions because lawyers maintained control…

Relis documents striking differences not only between lawyers and clients but also between men and women:

Interviews also indicated gender differences among lawyers and parties in perspective and approach to mediation, and among mediators in their ability to control the lawyers. Female lawyers were more likely to see merit in the emotional aspect of mediation. Female parties were more likely to feel trepidation about the mediation, to be more concerned about how their statements were perceived, to be influenced by mediators’ statements and behavior, and to be less likely to talk during the mediation. Female mediators were viewed by the parties as being less in control of the lawyers and the mediation.

An excerpt from the first chapter is available for downloading.

Dr. Relis is also the author of an earlier work, “Consequences of Power,” an article that appeared in Harvard Negotiation Law Review and  available as a PDF download at the Social Science Research Network.  It describes a disconnect between attorneys’ objectives and those of their clients and shows that the intentions of plaintiffs and defendants in mediation are more closely aligned than one might suppose–and  all too often thwarted in their desire to communicate with each other.

I hope that my brothers and sisters at the bar are listening.

Recommended books for mediators, ADR professionals: a brief bibliography

books for adr professionalsThe latest issue of the weekly Mediate.com newsletter links to an article by mediator Barbara Brown which provides a “A Practical Bibliography of Books for the Mediation Practitioner“.

It is a comprehensive list of influential texts for ADR professionals, and I salute Brown for taking the time and thought to compile what is plainly a labor of love. This will undoubtedly be a useful resource for practitioners, and I already looked it over to see if anything essential was missing from my own collection of books on conflict resolution and negotiation.

The one problem is that it’s a very, very long list. With only so much money in the budget for books and limited time to read them, how does a mediator, particularly a new one trying to build a useful reference library, figure out which ones to acquire? That’s a question a number of folks often ask me.

So here’s my short list – absolutely essential titles that mediators and other dispute resolution practitioners should read. (Although it may provoke cries of protest, I do not include Getting to Yes, in part because it’s so obvious but also because it’s on my list for Reading to Complete Before Taking a Mediation Training.)

So…what’s on your short list?

(FYI, to subscribe to the Mediate.com newsletter, go to the Mediate.com web site, scroll down to the subscription widget in the left sidebar, and enter your email address.)

Print and online resources for mediation and negotiation

Online and print resources for new mediators and negotiatorsWithout a doubt one of my favorite things in the whole world to do is to teach people how to mediate. For many people, a basic mediation training is their first introduction to conflict resolution theory and to new ways of thinking about negotiation, and it’s rewarding and fun for me to guide people through those early discoveries.

It’s important to remember that completion of a basic mediation training is not an end but a beginning, an initial step toward the practice of mediation. There’s a whole wide world of ideas waiting to be discovered or to be explored in far greater depth than a 40-hour mediation training can provide.

I’ve pulled together a list of recommended resources, both in print and on the web, to help new mediators continue their journey, arranging them by topic. And I invite readers and fellow bloggers to add their own suggestions.

Mediation, Conflict Resolution, and Consensus-Building

The following books represent a sample of the many texts available on these topics.

Mediating Dangerously: The Frontiers of Conflict Resolution, by Kenneth Cloke

The Promise of Mediation: The Transformative Approach to Conflict, by Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger

The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner’s Guide, by Bernard Mayer

The Mediator’s Handbook, by Jennifer Beer (for new mediators)

The Power of a Positive No: How to Say NO and Still Get to Yes, by William Ury

Breaking Robert’s Rules: The New Way to Run Your Meeting, Build Consensus, and Get Results, by Lawrence E. Susskind and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank

Finding information on mediation and conflict resolution on the web can be overwhelming. Google the word “mediation”, and you’ll get more than 24 million results. For the best, most up-to-date information on mediation, or for debate and discussion on the field’s most controversial topics, I recommend Mediate.com, the premiere ADR web site, and ADR blogs and podcasts. Click on the link to my blogroll to see what blogs I’m reading, view Mediate.com‘s list of Featured Blogs, or visit the World Directory of ADR Blogs, which indexes blogs, vblogs, and podcasts from over two dozen countries, listed by country and by category, all related to alternative dispute resolution.

Negotiation

Since mediation is often called assisted negotiation, it’s important to be familiar with negotiation theory and strategies. In addition to the classic Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher and William Ury, consider the following texts as you build your negotiation library:

Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People, by G. Richard Shell

Negotiation Genius: How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results at the Bargaining Table and Beyond, Deepak Malhotra and Max H. Bazerman

The Negotiator’s Fieldbook, edited by Andrea Kupfer Schneider and Christopher Honeyman

Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want, by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever

Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate, by Daniel Shapiro and Roger Fisher

Online negotiation resources abound. You can receive announcements of upcoming events (many of which are free) and explore materials and articles at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard. Or sign up for the free Harvard Business School Working Knowledge newsletter, which covers negotiation and leadership.

To find blogs and podcasts on negotiation, visit the World Directory of ADR Blogs. Two podcasts that I especially recommend are Negotiating Tip of the Week, a 3-minute podcast on important topics in negotiation, and International Dispute Negotiation, which provides a global perspective on negotiation and ADR through interviews with leaders and influential thinkers around the world.

Decision-Making, Influence, and the Mind

Mediators help people make difficult decisions — decisions which hopefully are rational and informed ones. Several books offer insights into how humans process information, make sense of their world, weigh decisions, and make judgments.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely

A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives, by Cordelia Fine

Sites that will help you understand better the workings of your own mind include Project Implicit, a site for testing your hidden biases; the Visual Cognition Lab video demonstrations of inattentional blindness; and Brains on Purpose, a blog that explores the link between neuroscience and conflict resolution.

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An excellent resource for scholarly articles on all the topics highlighted above is the Social Science Research Network, with a searchable database of articles many of which can be downloaded in PDF for free.

Finally, for more online resources on conflict resolution, negotiation, ADR, as well as diversity and culture guides for business travelers and negotiators, visit the resource page on my web site.

Ask for It: review of Babcock and Laschever's new book on negotiation for women

Ask for It by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever Women don’t ask.

That was the premise — and the title — of a book published in 2003 by Linda Babcock, James M. Walton Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, and successful writer and editor Sara Laschever.

Women Don’t Ask explored the uncomfortable truths about gender and negotiation and exposed the obstacles that keep women from negotiating effectively for themselves. While men seem to have no trouble negotiating and asking for what they need, women hesitate or fail to ask at all.

Social conditioning and cultural expectations are among the causes of these gendered differences. Tragically these differences produce well-documented economic costs for women, haunting them over the course of a lifetime. For example, according to the Women Don’t Ask web site, “By not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60 — and men are more than four times as likely as women to negotiate a first salary.”

This book touched a raw nerve for the many women who read it; indeed, so overwhelming was the response to Women Don’t Ask that Babcock and Laschever went to work on a sequel.

The result is Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want, a book filled with practical advice; real-world negotiation stories from the authors, the women who have contacted them as a result of their work, and Babcock’s students; and a detailed four-phase program with exercises for preparing for and succeeding in life’s negotiations.

Phase One teaches women to recognize that “Everything Is Negotiable”. As anyone knows, the toughest negotiation can be with yourself, and the authors help readers begin by asking questions of themselves to identify and clarify their professional and personal goals. Phase Two teaches readers how to “Lay the Groundwork”, reviewing the skills and concepts of basic negotiation strategy. Among the most important lessons? Information is power — and the authors explain how and where to get it to strengthen your bargaining position.

Phase Three, “Get Ready”, pushes women to aim high when it comes to negotiating. It covers cooperative bargaining; ascertaining your worth; using logrolling or trade-offs to get past jams and build value; and how to make the first offer. Best of all, it even comes equipped with a “Negotiation Gym” — a six-week program of increasingly difficult negotiation exercises that will help women build negotiation muscles and develop stamina and strength in preparation for tougher negotiation challenges. No one will ever kick sand in your face again.

Phase Four shows how women can “Put It All Together” — to practice in advance by role playing with a friend, to avoid making concessions prematurely, to create the right impression to influence your counterpart at the table, and, finally, to close the deal.

An appendix helpfully provides a detailed worksheet to help women prepare for negotiations, along with a link to the web site where readers can download a PDF version.

Ask for It recounts numerous stories of women facing negotiations at work and in their lives, across a range of industries and professions, which bring the lessons to memorable life. However, as convincing as these anecdotes may be, I would have welcomed more examples of negotiations in blue-collar settings, my one quibble with an otherwise excellent book.

What makes this book a must-read for men, too, and not just for women are its unpleasant revelations about the realities of hidden bias against women at the negotiation table. The authors exhort readers to take responsibility themselves for combating gender bias, not just that of others but particularly their own. They remind readers that all of us regardless of gender possess assumptions and unexamined beliefs about women in negotiation. They point to studies that indicate that while aggression earns men points at the negotiation table, it punishes women with backlash and disapproval. And, while the authors fiercely advocate for women at the negotiation table, the chapter on “Likability” with its insistence that women avoid aggressive tactics and “be nice” while bargaining, will no doubt leave some readers bristling. However, until the world changes how it views women in negotiation, it’s hard to argue with the studies the authors cite.

There is much to admire about this gutsy book with its commitment to helping women really succeed at negotiating. Even the title itself serves as a defiant call to action. Babcock and Laschever explain in the forward that the title represents a deliberate effort to reclaim a phrase weighted with negative meaning for women and instead assert it as an emblem of power:

For centuries the phrase “asking for it” has been used as an accusing finger to point at women. A woman who’d been sexually assault was “asking for it”. A woman who’d been the victim of spousal abuse must have provoked her partner — she “asked for it”.

Our goal is to help women ask for and get the things they — we — really want, to claim the phrase “asking for it” as our own and transform it into a dynamic tool for increasing our happiness and pursuing our dreams.

This is not simply a book about changing the way women negotiate. Instead, Babcock and Laschever have ambitiously set out to change women’s lives.

Any of us can join the revolution — all we have to do is ask.

Ask For It: a book, a blog, and online resources for women leveraging the power of negotiation

Ask for It - books helps women leverage the power of negotiationFive years ago Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever published Women Don’t Ask, a book that ripped the lid off of one of negotiation’s most intractable problems: the challenges that women face in negotiating successfully. They examined the barriers — institutional, cultural, and social — that hold women back and provided strategies to help women conquer the gender divide at the negotiation table to ask for and get what they want.

Women Don’t Ask touched a responsive chord in women nationally and internationally, many of whom had encountered these barriers up close. Many women contacted the authors to thank them for writing a book that opened up their eyes to negotiation’s possibilities and to ask for help with their own negotiations. This enthusiastic response motivated Babcock and Laschever to write a second book, the recently published Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want.

I plan to post a review of this book later this week, but one thing I can tell you right now is that it may be one of the best books on negotiation I’ve ever read. What Tammy Lenski recently did for mediation marketing, Ask for It does for real women facing real-world negotiations — women who want practical, common sense advice and tools for being effective negotiators. The advice is so good though and the revelations about gender issues at the negotiation table so disturbing that men should read it, too — not just to learn better ways to negotiate but to find out how any of us can battle gender bias in negotiation.

The Ask for It web site provides support for negotiating women, everything from downloadable worksheets and information to links to online resources, including Babcock’s work helping girls learn to negotiate.

There’s even (be still my heart) a blog. Although the blog is new with just three posts so far, if “Scary Monster(.com)” and “Cut Throat Bitch“, with their gutsy commentary on negotiation and gender, are any indication of what’s to come, this is one negotiation blog you’ll want to follow.

The sociology of error: a book recommendation for cognitive science fans

The etiology of errorThis weekend I finished reading Steven Johnson‘s The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. A recounting of nineteenth-century London’s battle with cholera, it proved to be one of those books so riveting I could not bear to put it down.

It is at bottom an etiology of error — uncovering how mistaken beliefs about the causes of disease take hold, thrive, and persist, with disastrous consequences for public health. It considers important questions:

The history of knowledge conventionally focuses on the breakthrough ideas and conceptual leaps. But the blind spots on the map, the dark continents of error and prejudice, carry their own mystery as well. How could so many intelligent people be so grievously wrong for such an extended period of time? How could they ignore so much overwhelming evidence that contradicted their most basic theories? These questions, too, deserve their own discipline — the sociology of error.

This book delivers as well a message of optimism about intellectual courage and unblinkered vision — how two men struggled to cast off bad ideas and pursue better ones — ideas that ultimately led to the defeat of a deadly disease.

For anyone fascinated by human judgment and cognition, this book offers a reminder, rooted in history, of the importance of the second glance, of the ability to see anew.

Making Mediation Your Day Job: great mediation marketing resource now available in print

It’s official — successful professional mediator and ADR marketing coach Tammy Lenski has announced that her book, Making Mediation Your Day Job, is at last on online store bookshelves.

I’ve had a chance to read the book for myself. Here’s what I think:

Shakespeare once wrote, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” These words, written 400 years ago, resonate today. They do so especially for the many professional mediators who cringe at the very thought of marketing — with its associations with shameless self-promotion, glad-handing, and cold-calling. For many mediators, marketing just feels wrong.

Now, at long last, there’s a guidebook that achieves something no other mediation marketing resource has done. It helps mediators do the impossible: become more effective marketers and remain true to themselves and their work. Dr. Tammy Lenski, a mediator and mediation marketing coach who has run her own successful practice since 1997, has created Making Mediation Your Day Job, the definitive resource for mediators who want a realistic, practical blueprint for marketing their practice.

The clue to Dr. Lenski’s formula for success is in the second half of the title of the book: How to Market Your ADR Business Using Mediation Principles You Already Know. She asks readers, “Would you enjoy marketing more if your primary aim isn’t selling and self-promotion? I’m betting most of you would say yes.” Like the skilled practitioner she is, she reframes, inviting readers to see marketing anew, “as dialogue or as a learning conversation”, something mediators already know how to do, and do well.

Using humor, anecdotes, and real-life examples drawn from her clients, her students, and her own experience, Dr. Lenski encourages her readers to step outside their comfort zone and draw upon the professional skills they already have to build opportunities. She also offers sensible productivity tips, business planning advice, and useful exercises that help mediators master marketing.

What also distinguishes this work from the numerous resources available now on mediation marketing is its emphasis on professional integrity — on honoring the profession through a commitment to mediation excellence. Dr. Lenski reminds readers that it’s not just good marketing that matters; mediators also have a duty to uphold standards of excellence and develop their professional skills. She wisely observes, “In the end, it’s the quality of the work you deliver that’s going to help keep the clients coming.”

More than a book, Making Mediation Your Day Job functions like an honest conversation with a wise and caring friend. Dr. Lenski writes as someone who has been there and understands where and why any of us get stuck when it comes to marketing. She’s there to nudge us forward, with encouragement and straight talk. Making Mediation Your Day Job offers authentic, real-world advice for mediators who want to use marketing to take their practice to the next level — and all the while stay true to themselves and their work.

Congratulations, Tammy!