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The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need Summary

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The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need PDF Summary

101 Ways to Win Every Time in Any Situation

Negotiating is an art—and some know it better than others.

Tired of being unable to ask for a pay raise because you belong to the latter group?

Peter B. Stark and Jane Flaherty are here to help:

The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need.

Who Should Read “The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need”? And Why?

It was Daniel Pink who taught us that to sell is human. Negotiating, of course, is an essential part of the process—and is something that happens much more often than you think, both at your home and at work. 

Unlike Secrets of Power Negotiating or the similarly titled but more specific Secrets of Power Negotiating for Salespeople by Roger Dawson, The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need is much more universal in its scope, much better structured for the beginner, and much more straightforward in its advices.

Consequently, it is for everyone who needs a primer on negotiating, regardless of whether he/she needs it for negotiating a round of golf from his wife or a better price at a garage sale.

About Peter B. Stark and Jane Flaherty

Peter B. Stark is a bestselling author, consultant, speaker, and president of Peter Barron Stark Companies. 

One of the most sought-after professional speakers in areas such as negotiation and leadership, Stark holds the prestigious designation of Accredited Speaker from Toastmasters International as well as CSP from the National Speakers Association.

He has co-written several books, including Everyone Negotiates, The Competent Leader, Lifetime Leadership, and Why Leaders Fail.

Jane Flaherty is a senior consultant and trainer for Peter Barron Stark Companies. 

With over twenty-five years of experience designing and delivering training programs around the world, she is a respected leadership and negotiating trainer.

She is a frequent writing collaborator of Peter B. Stark, having co-written with him all of the books mentioned above and a few more.

“The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need Summary”

In a research study of university studies conducted about a decade ago, more than a third of the participants answered that they seldom or never negotiate.

The truth is, however, quite the opposite:

Everything in life is negotiated, under all conditions, at all times. From asking your significant other to take out the garbage to merging onto the freeway in rush-hour traffic, from determining what time to schedule an appointment with a client to deciding which television program to watch with your family—every aspect of your life is spent in some form of negotiation.

That’s why you need a negotiating guide. And The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need—not just because of the title—is one of the best ones you’ll find on the market.

It is conveniently divided into two parts: “The Skillful Negotiator” and “101 Tactics for Successful Negotiation.” As the titles themselves suggest, the first part is mainly theoretical and explains the basics of negotiation, while the second one is practical and goes over what this means in practice.

Part I: The Skillful Negotiator

As we pointed out above, “most of us are involved in negotiations to one degree or another for a good part of any given day.”

Consequently—and contrary to popular opinion—negotiation tactics should never be considered anything less than “a positive way of structuring the communication process.”

In other words, as Gerard I. Nierenberg—justly dubbed “The Father of Negotiation Training” by Forbes—said a few decades ago: “in a successful negotiation, everybody wins.”

And that feels like a good place to start our summary!

Negotiation’s Four Possible Outcomes

Unless you are as capable as Michael Scott, any negotiation you take part in can end in only one of four (not five) possible outcomes: lose-lose, win-lose, win-win, or no outcome (no consequences, negative or positive).


Needless to say, lose-lose is the least desirable outcome. 

Unfortunately, it is also one that often happens. 

Stark and Flaherty point to the June 2016 grocery workers’ strike against the supermarket chains Ralphs and Albertsons, which ended with them accepting 35% cut to their pensions, and Ralphs and Albertsons losing $1.5 billion in sales and about 30% of the market.

Win-Lose or Lose-Win

Win-lose or lose-win is the outcome everybody secretly hopes for—that is if you end up on the winning side. 

Of course, if you are capable of doing that, you might not be interested in any other outcome. However, even so, in the long run, win-lose doesn’t work as well as you think. And that’s because when you create a win-lose situation, the loser will most likely refuse to negotiate with you again in the future.

“Almost all win-lose relationships end up lose-lose over time,” said Stark and Flaherty.


The ideal outcome is, of course, win-win, i.e., the outcome when the needs of both parties are met.

You might think this sounds like something taken out of a fairytale, but it is not: win-win is quite a possible outcome and is best in both the short and the long run.

As an example of this kind of outcome, Stark and Flaherty point to Barack Obama successfully normalizing relations between the US and Cuba after half a century.

Everybody won in the end.

“After years and years of failed negotiations,” Stark and Flaherty write, “both countries were granted release of their prisoners. Americans and Cuban Americans are free to travel to Cuba. The Cubans will significantly benefit from the travel and trade revenue that is brought to their country from the United States.”

No Outcome

This is the final possible outcome: the lack of one. Neither party wins or loses—everything remains just the way it was at the beginning.

A great example of negotiating “no-outcome” is selling your car. Your buyer doesn’t agree with your estimation, you don’t agree with his/her offer. As a result, he walks out, and you try to find another buyer.

Of course, every “no outcome” can evolve into a “win-win” or “lose-lose” outcome. For example, if you find a buyer willing to give you more money, you’ll see the “no outcome” as a preparation for a “win-win” scenario. 

However, if, after several buyers are unwilling to commit, you realize that the offer of the first one was the best one, you’re heading toward a “lose-lose” outcome as a direct consequence of the previous “no outcome.”

Three Keys to Creating Win-Win Outcome

“Some negotiators,” write Stark and Flaherty, “have a strong reputation for consistently achieving win-win outcomes in their negotiations.”

If you want to become one of them, then it’s best to keep the following three guidelines in mind:

#1. Avoid narrowing the negotiation down to one issue.

Whether you’re negotiating with your spouse or a seller, focusing on just one issue is one of the worst things you can do during a negotiation. It almost inevitably sets the scene for a win-lose outcome.

No matter what the negotiation subject, there are always more issues to be considered. And the more issues are on the table, the more chances there are for both sides to juggle them into a “win-win” outcome.

For example, if you’re buying something and negotiating only the price, there’s a good chance one side will lose the bargain. However, if you bring up additional deal points to negotiate (delivery date, financing, upgrades, warranty, training, and support), you might get yourself a deal.

The interesting part: all of the things put in the parenthesis above contribute to the overall “price” of the product; and yet, people narrow themselves down to one issue in most negotiations.

#2. Realize that your counterpart does not have the same needs and wants you do.

Everything other than this attitude inevitably leads to a win-lose situation. 

Don’t ever start a negotiation with the idea that your gain is your counterpart’s loss and vice versa. First of all, the market is never that rational or simple, and, secondly, it is not a good feeling to end up on the losing side.

#3. Do not assume you know your counterpart’s needs.

It is not only important to not assume that your counterpart has the same needs as you, but it is also important to assume that you don’t know his/her needs.

It’s quite common for negotiators to make this mistake, simply because sometimes everything is obvious, when you know the answer beforehand.

For example, a seller might assume that his/her buyer wants to buy the product or service in question at the lowest price possible, but what if his/her actual need is, in this case, quality or status?

That’s a missed opportunity for a “win-win” outcome, right there!

The Three Critical Elements of Negotiation

“The three most critical elements in negotiation,” inform us Stark and Flaherty, “are time (the period over which the negotiation takes place), information (the more you have, the better), and power (which comes in many forms).”

#1. Time

Most negotiations, just like almost everything in life, are a process. 

And, once again, just like most things in life, they seem to adhere to the Pareto principle, with over 80 percent of your results in a negotiation generally agreed upon in the last 20 percent of the time.

If you want to bring time to your side of the table during a negotiation, it is smart to follow these simple guidelines:

#1. Have patience.
#2. Be persistent.
#3. Move quickly when possible.
#4. Realize deadlines can be moved, changed, or eliminated.
#5. Know your counterpart’s timeline.
#6. Make time work for you.

#2. Information

About half a millennium ago, Francis Bacon noted that “knowledge is power,” and there is nothing truer than this as far as negotiations are concerned.

The more you know about the topic being negotiated, the better the result. The less you know, the more susceptible you are to being on the losing side of a “win-lose” outcome.

A negotiation is not an event, but a process, that starts long before the actual face-to-face encounter. Be prepared.

Find out everything you need from anyone who has the facts and statistics, be him/her a friend of yours or a relative, a colleague, or an acquaintance of your counterpart. Browse the Internet, check the archives, and never forget—your counterpart will probably do the same.

#3. Power

“Several types of power can influence the outcome of a negotiation,” point Stark and Flaherty, highlighting the word can in that sentence, “because if you have power but don’t use it, the power adds no value to the negotiation.”

According to them, there are ten types of power that need to be taken into consideration and that, unfortunately, can not only be used but also abused:

#1. Position
#2. Knowledge of expertise
#3. Character or ethics
#4. Rewards
#5. Punishment
#6. Gender
#7. Powerlessness
#8. Charisma or personal power
#9. Lack of interest or desire
#10. Craziness

In addition to these types of power, they point out the five rules of power as well:

#1. Seldom does one side have all the power.
#2. Power may be both real and apparent.
#3. Power exists only to the point at which it is accepted.
#4. Power relationships can change.
#5. Power should be tested.

Three Types of Negotiators

According to Stark and Flaherty, no matter what the subject of negotiation, there are three types of negotiators you are bound to come across: sharks, carps, and dolphins. 


As far as the sharks are concerned, there are no other outcomes but the win-lose outcome; and they are unwilling to end up on the losing side.

They live in a world of scarcity and think that it is important to win at all costs. That’s why, for them, it is vital to focus on the “kill.”


Carps too live in a world of scarcity, but their final objective is not to win but to minimize their losses.

They dread confrontation and are entering all negotiations with the idea that they will have to work hard to just maintain what they already have. 

Needless to say, when faced with a shark, the carp always end up being on the losing side.


The dolphins are the best negotiators because they live in a world of potential abundance: as far as they are concerned, negotiations can have numerous different outcomes, and not only two.

They are flexible and can change their behavior depending on the situation. In addition, they would try everything to swim around a confrontation, but if challenged by a shark, they are capable of responding swiftly and purposefully.

They are also quick to forgive, as well. So, if a counterpart, even if a shark, shows any signs of cooperation, dolphins are capable of quickly switching from retaliation to a more cooperative strategy.

Part II: 101 Tactics for Successful Negotiation

As we said above, part 2 of The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need includes no less than 101 tactics for a successful negotiation. And we mean literally “no less,” because, in the revised edition, there are also 20 bonus tactics included!

The tactics are presented in a uniform manner: each of the presentations includes a description of the tactic, an example, and a counter.

Of course, even listing the 101 tactics would go beyond the limits of this summary, so we decided to randomly choose three and sum them up in our “Key Lessons” section.

The good news?

Well, Peter Stark and Jane Flaherty have made all of the 101 tactics available for free: you can read everything about each one of them here and here

Key Lessons from “The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need”

1.      Negotiating Tactic #1: Is That Your Best Offer?
2.      Negotiating Tactic #10: Wow! You’ve Got to Be Kidding!
3.      Bonus Tactic #2: Giving Up a Future Draft Choice

Negotiating Tactic #1: Is That Your Best Offer?

This question—”Is that your best offer?”—is Negotiating 101. 

A great way to practice your negotiation skills is to simply get in the habit of asking salespeople this question. 

“You would be amazed how many times they will lower their price or throw in an extra benefit in response to this simple question,” write Stark and Flaherty.

Try it and find out!

Negotiating Tactic #10: Wow! You’ve Got to Be Kidding!

“Successful negotiators are good at acting surprised,” said Stark and Flaherty. 

And this is the way they usually express that surprise. It may seem silly, but, in the real world, it really has an effect. It makes your counterpart ask himself “What does he know (that I don’t)?”—even when he knows it’s merely a trick.

In fact, failing to act surprised when price or conditions are mentioned could result in something you don’t want: your counterpart taking advantage of you.

Bonus Tactic #2: Giving Up a Future Draft Choice

Everyone who watches the NBA knows what this means: gaining more at the present moment by giving up something in the future.

For example, if you really—really—want to watch the football game tonight even though you promised your girlfriend to take her out to a nice restaurant, maybe you’ll manage to by offering her this kind of deal: “OK. If you let me watch the football game today, I’ll take you out three times during the next week.”

We don’t guarantee it will work—but, hey, it’s worth a shot! 

The Jets are on!

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“The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need Quotes”

Whenever people exchange ideas with the intention of changing relationships, whenever they confer for agreement, then they are negotiating. (Via Gerard I. Nierenberg) Click To Tweet Let us never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate. (Via John F. Kennedy) Click To Tweet A great way to practice your negotiation skills is to simply get in the habit of asking salespeople, ‘Is That Your Best Offer?’ Click To Tweet Before going into a negotiation, make sure you have thoroughly researched all the issues and have established a clear set of goals based on the information you have collected. Click To Tweet Making your counterpart trust you is key to successful negotiation. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

One can’t be skeptical enough of books that promise to be “The Only Book” of their kind one will ever require, but a case can be made for the validity of the title The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need for Peter B. Stark and Jane Flaherty’s primer.

Of course, you might need many more negotiating guides other than this, but we feel that this is the one you’ll always return to, because it works as a sort of a school book (the first part) and an encyclopedia (the second part).

Don’t let the print length fool you: there is much more here about negotiation than you could expect to be packed in 300 pages. Trust us.

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