BY SUSAN BOTHMANN
Title: Negotiation: Theory and Techniques
Authors: Spegel Rogers & Buckley
Published by Butterworths, Australia (1998)
ISBN: 0 409 31126 X(9/98)
This slim but dense volume is in a series published by Butterworths concentrating specifically on imparting information and teaching techniques about skills. In this case the skill of negotiating.
The authors point out on page one, the dictionary definition of ‘negotiation’ is, ‘to confer with another for the purpose of arranging some matter by mutual agreement.’ They also emphasise that negotiation done by lawyers is not exclusively or even predominantly in the context of resolving disputes but is substantially about negotiating the terms of agreements, or contracts, between third parties for whom they act. Since lawyers do a lot of negotiating they may need guidance to do it better.
The scope of the book upon its stated subject is wide and detailed. The chapters proceed from discussions about the framework for negotiation, suggestions for a constructive approach and the preparatory stages, to the practical aspects in Chapter 4: "At the Negotiation Table."
More theoretical and philosophical issues such as ethics, the understanding of conflict and human personality differences and their consequences, are covered in Chapters 5 to 7 inclusive.
All three of the authors have qualifications in law and are currently involved in the teaching and practice of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which is frequently the course context in which negotiation skills are taught to lawyers, if at all, in academic institutions. They stress that the book is intended to be a teaching tool aimed primarily at law students. The arrangement of the material, the clear language and the extensive use of practical examples make the book particularly suitable for its target audience.
As is often the case with "how to" manuals like this one, the material at first glance may seem self- evident, but even experienced legal practitioners, who find themselves nodding in silent affirmation at many points in the book, will probably come away with a deeper understanding of why they use the techniques they do in negotiation situations.
Diagrams, graphics and charts pepper the pages and help make following the text clearer.
The book is written in an Australian context using Australian examples and is aimed mainly at an Australian audience. Nevertheless as there exist few skills-oriented texts for law students on this topic and this one contains enough general material and analysis to be universally relevant, it should be useful to students from other cultural backgrounds including those studying in the South Pacific. It might, for example, be interesting to apply the DISC model outlined at pages 119 and following, in a USP classroom to test the paradigm of the four core styles of behaviour, (extrovert /introvert; people oriented/ task oriented). The model proposes that all people fall into one of the four core styles, with most of us being a mixture, but having a predominant style which affects directly how we respond to conflict situations. Identifying ones own style and the style of the persons with whom we are negotiating, is, it is suggested, a useful tool for understanding and directing the negotiation process.