Getting More: How You Can Negotiate to Succeed in Work and Life by Stuart Diamond

Reading Time: 6 minutes


A fantastic introduction to negotiation and learning how to get more as a way of life. Diamond challenges the conventional wisdom of using power and logic to negotiate. Instead, he proposes that effective negotiation stems from understanding, valuing, and communicating with the person between you and your goals. A few key learnings include the power of persistence, understanding perceptions, framing and using standards, being incremental, and trading items of unequal value.

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Key Takeaways


“Negotiation is at the heart of human interaction.”

Negotiation is not a battle. It’s a process of better relating to people in all kinds of circumstances.

Common enemies

“Common enemies bring parties closer together and make the negotiation easier.”

“Some legitimate common enemies in business relationships are loss of profit, loss of time, failure to retain good people, and inability to capitalize on opportunities.”

Common enemies bond people. In business, find the common enemies relevant to your discussion and leverage those to create a point of connection. Show how your proposal helps solve those issues.

Be persistent

“It doesn’t matter how many times the other person says no, or disagrees with you, or gives you a hard time. Keep asking, stay focused on your goals (without making yourself the issue). Persistence, after all, is a focused effort, over time, to meet your goals.”

“With persistence comes self-confidence: the belief that you can do it.”

In negotiation, persistence is key. Keep finding ways to get more information and unlock new value levers for both parties. Your persistence will pay off in the long run.

Emotions > rationality

“People do some of the most important things in life not for money, not for rational benefits, but for how it makes them feel.”

As much as economists want us to believe that people are hyper-rational actors that consider all angles of every decision they make, they’re not. Most of the things we do are because of some feeling we have, not because we have weighed the rationality of a particular course. More often than not, we rationalize our decisions after they’ve been made.

Value the other person

“People like to give things to others who listen to them, who value them, who consult with them.”

“A key to getting other people to give you what you want is to value the other party.”

Listen to and value the other party. It will improve your outcomes.

What’s going on with the other person?

“What is the other person feeling? How do they perceive the situation? What are the pictures in their heads?”

“Thinking from the other person’s point of view often turns up surprising results.”

Your outcomes will be improved once you start thinking from the other person’s perspective. What are their needs or fears? How are they approaching the situation? These are critical pieces of information for any successful negotiation.

Make small talk

“You make small talk. Not just because you read somewhere that it’s smart to make small talk. You do it because you are interested in them. Because you want to try for a point of connection with other people. It’s a way of approaching life.”

Small talk helps open up and deepen connections. Don’t be above it.


“Let’s define trust. Trust is a feeling of security that the other person will protect you. With some trust, another person will help you until it’s too risky for them or a better opportunity comes along. With a lot of trust, the other party will help you even if it harms them. It is very important to understand the trust dynamic.”

Trust can carry you further than most other things.

Misperception and communication

“Perhaps the biggest cause of negotiation failure, worldwide, is communication failure. And the single biggest cause of communication failure is misperception.”

“This means that their perceptions are more important than your proposals; that is, if you want to persuade them.”

Most communication failures stem from misperception. This is especially true in romantic relationships, where communication is one of the main reasons a relationship will fail. So before jumping to conclusions, do your research and try to understand the other person as best you can.

Don’t interrupt someone

“And this is why it is generally senseless to interrupt someone. When someone is interrupted, the tapes are still playing in their head.”

I think about this all the time. It’s so easy to interrupt someone once you understand what they are saying or have your response ready to go. But it’s a terrible habit. Because once you interrupt someone, they aren’t listening to you. They are thinking about finishing the point they wanted to make.

Have you ever made an exception?

I’ve used this question dozens of times. It’s gold. It requires the other person to candidly reflect on whether or not they have treated someone differently in the past, and often, they have. Once they realize this, it’s more likely that you’ll become one of the exceptions as well.

Dealing with hard bargainers

“Standards are especially effective with hard bargainers.”

With difficult people, use standards. What are the company standards or the standards they have stated themselves? How are they potentially not living by those standards?

“It is a fundamental tenet of human psychology that people hate to contradict themselves. So if you give people a choice between being consistent with their standards—with what they have said and promised previously—and contradicting their standards, people will usually strive to be consistent with their standards.”

Knowing that people hate to contradict themselves is a key part of understanding the power of standards and why you should leverage them.

Frame and be incremental

“It is much more persuasive to let others make the decision, instead of telling them what the decision should be. You want to lead them to where you want them to go, through framing and by being incremental.”

“Framing and being incremental are two of the hardest things for people to learn. Most people want to rush ahead, and find it hard to break things up into smaller steps. Also, it takes time to get just the right framing; many people don’t have the patience. But great framing can immediately conclude a negotiation in your favor.”

Do not underestimate the power of framing and being incremental. It makes all the difference.

Find the intangibles

“In much of business, money is not the most important item of importance to either side, regardless of what they say. The price has to be reasonable, but so much more is required. Intangibles can bridge the gap between seemingly inflexible positions.”

It’s rarely just about maximizing the monetary outcome.

“What costs you nothing that gives me what I want, and what costs me nothing that gives you what you want?”

Look for trades of unequal value. There are things that I have that cost me very little, but that you value highly. Identifying these levers is essential for maximizing the value of the negotiation for both parties.

Be dispassionate

“The best negotiators are dispassionate, and continue to ask for information.”

“Emotion destroys negotiations and limits creativity. Focus is lost. Decision-making is poor. Retaliation often occurs.”

Your goal is not to be “right;” it’s to get the outcome you desire. Leave the emotions and ego at the door, and you will make fewer bad decisions. You’ll keep your eye on the prize.

Don’t say “calm down”

“The more you tell them to calm down, the madder they get. That’s because telling them to calm down devalues the legitimacy of their emotions. And when people feel devalued, they become more emotional.”

Good negotiation requires valuing the other party and their needs. Telling someone to calm down fails to recognize the person’s perspective as legitimate, and more often than not, it will do more harm than good.

Fundamental attribution error

“It’s back to that term “fundamental attribution error.” We all think that everyone else has the same thought processes, set of experiences, and perceptual framework that we do.”

We all imagine that others think like we do. They don’t. We also attribute people’s behaviors to their identity instead of recognizing the importance of the specific events happening in their lives at the moment. This is the fundamental attribution error at work, and it leads us to make poor judgments about people’s motivations and character.

Cultural differences

“‘Do I trust this person? Before I put my life, and my family’s life, in their hands, without recourse, who are they?’ This is the question that is asked by most of the rest of the world. It is not a question that appears to be asked by most people in the United States. The United States focuses more on punishment and contracts than on relationships. And this hampers the United States and its citizens in their negotiations with the rest of the world.”

In most places outside of the United States, relationships have greater weight in the negotiation process. In the U.S., we’re accustomed to purely transactional business relationships, but if we bring this perspective abroad, we will not be as effective as we could be.


“With compensation, it is especially important to know what the other party is thinking before asking for something specific.”

Knowing how your company makes compensation decisions and what your boss values are important pieces of information before you ask for anything specific in a compensation discussion.

Essential question for all job applicants

Ask how the company retains, trains, and promotes people in their careers. Ask about the company’s philosophy of work? The answers to these questions will give you invaluable information about the culture of the organization and whether or not it’s a fit for your needs.

When arguing with a friend

Contextualize the argument, no matter how heated, with the following: “Hey, we’ve been friends for x years—over 1,000 or 2,000 days. Do you really want to toss everything out over one bad day?” This will help put things in perspective and diffuse the issue.

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