5 Books on Negotiation Every CRE Broker Should Read

Success in commercial real estate depends considerably on your negotiation skills. Eager and aggressive brokers might close their share on raw tenacity alone, but as with any sales role, long-term success depends on the perfect balance of confidence, competence, collaboration, and an ability to go head-to-head without breaking a sweat.

But the ability to negotiate isn’t innate — it’s a learned skill you can enhance over time. Even top-performing CRE professionals still have room for improvement.

To help you boost your negotiation skills, here are five books we recommend:

1. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

This business classic was written in 1981, but the principles it covers are timeless. Based on the Harvard Negotiation Project, this text has helped millions of readers grow from novices to expert negotiators. And even though several similar books have been published in the meantime, Getting to Yes remains a gold standard.

The most recent version has been thoroughly updated and revised to address the needs of today’s client relationships and covers four essential steps for success (getting to the “yes”):

  1. Disentangle people from the problem.
  2. Focus on interests instead of positions.
  3. Generate a variety of options before settling on the agreement.
  4. Insisting the agreement is founded on objective criteria.

The book also breaks down the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA), how to overcome a stalemate, and what to do if you can’t reach an agreement.

2. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

There are few people better equipped to teach negotiation skills than former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss. In this book, Voss offers a field-tested approach to high-stakes negotiation (in some cases, the highest stakes you can imagine).

Never Split the Difference will teach you the following negotiation tactics:

  • Negotiating through active listening: Validating the other party’s emotions and forging enough trust and safety for real conversation to take place.
  • Using a mirror approach: Encouraging the other side to empathize and bond, keep talking, reveal their strategy, and buy your team extra time to tighten up your plan.
  • Leveraging strategic empathy: How to illuminate and overcome emotional obstacles and identify a pathway to reaching an agreement.
  • Labeling: Giving a name to someone’s emotions so you can lay it all out on the table. By labeling emotions, you’ll give the other party an opportunity to better explain their perspective and what they’re trying to accomplish.
  • Using “no” strategically: How this simple word can help you clarify what you and the other party really want by eliminating what you don’t want.

Not only is the book fascinating, but it’s chock-full of practical advice for getting and maintaining a competitive edge in any negotiation situation.

3. Getting More: How You Can Negotiate to Succeed in Work and Life

Looking for the same negotiation training offered to Google employees, US Special Ops, and other massive organizations?

This book by Stuart Diamond, one of the world’s leading experts on negotiation and University of Pennsylvania professor, challenges the conventional wisdom of using power and logic for successful negotiation. Instead, Diamond demonstrates the value that emotional intelligence, collaboration, and cultural diversity bring to the table in virtually every type of human interaction. Diamond offers readers unique tools, wisdom, and best practices to solve communication challenges and reach their goals, including:

  • Redefining negotiation as a process of relating to people, instead of a battle.
  • Using common “enemies” to foster connections.
  • Leveraging persistence to gain insight that will benefit the negotiation.
  • Understanding how emotions drive people more than rational thought.
  • Learning active listening skills to show people you value them.
  • Improving your small-talk skills to encourage people to open up.
  • Avoiding misperceptions that threaten communication.
  • Practicing dispassion — that is, checking your own emotions and ego so you can better understand others’ perspectives.

This book can not only help you level up your career but can improve personal relationships, too.

4. Negotiation: Your Mentor and Guide to Doing Business Effectively

Even if you didn’t attend an Ivy League school, you can still learn the negotiation skills taught at one. This guide, taken from content for Harvard Business School publications and other distinguished sources, is a comprehensive look at negotiations as a necessary (albeit challenging) aspect of business.

A few topics covered in this book include:

  • The difference between distributive and integrative negotiations.
  • Leveraging concepts like BATNA, zone of possible agreements (ZOPA), knowing your reservation price, and how to create value through trades.
  • Preparing for negotiation.
  • Grappling with barriers and mental errors.
  • Building long-term relationships through savvy negotiation skills.

After you finish this book, you’ll be prepared to hone your negotiation skills and become even more effective in business discussions of all types.

5. 99 Negotiating Strategies: Tips, Tactics & Techniques Used by Wall Street’s Toughest Dealmakers

This celebrated book was written as a field guide for lawyers, sales professionals, and dealmakers across many industries. It includes some of the most cutting-edge and effective strategies ever published, including proven tactics rooted in human psychology.

Written by David Rosen (whom his peers describe as one of the toughest negotiators in the country), this book is broken down into 99 short and easy-to-read chapters. Many of the tactics can be used individually or combined with other techniques as part of a more robust strategy. We can vouch that this book delivers on its promise to be a reader-friendly directory of powerful negotiating principles and tactics.

Here are a few things you’ll learn in this book:

  • Motivating others to buy, sell, or reach an agreement.
  • Overcoming objectives.
  • Creating or deflating a sense of urgency.
  • Helping opposing negotiators sell your deal to their clients.
  • Overwhelming the opposition.
  • Strategic uses of silence and indecision.
  • Theories and concepts like prospect theory, the Coase theorem, and the Asch conformity principles.

Trust us — you’ll want to keep this one handy for years to come.