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Books: Negotiation and workplace relationships

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Last updated 18 November 2001 — now very out of date!

This page lists some books that helped me learn a lot about dealing with workplace relationships. Of the many books I’ve read, some discuss the topics in ways that are useful to me; others don’t. Your reaction to them may be quite different to mine.

Unfortunately, some of my favorite books are out of print, but plenty are still available.

An excellent place to start is:

Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself, by Florence Littauer, 1992, ISBN 080075445X. If you haven’t yet been introduced to the concept of the four basic personality types (sanguine, melancholy, phlegmatic, choleric), this book can be a real eye-opener. It’s also a delight to read.

Other authors have dealt with the same concepts, sometimes calling the personality types by slightly different names, but the principle is the same.

Once you learn how to recognise the different personality types, you’ll realize that some people aren’t being deliberately difficult, they simply have a quite different view of the world than you do. Neither is right or wrong; they’re just different. You need to learn different persuasive techniques to deal most effectively with the different personality types.

Another enlightening concept is that of the three sensory modes: sight, hearing and touch, which affect how a person processes information.

One of my favorite authors is Dr. Suzette Haden Elgin, a linguist, who has published a series of books on “the gentle art of verbal self-defense.” She discusses the sensory modes and provides techniques for recognising them and presenting your message in terms that are meaningful to people responding in each of the modes.

Dr. Elgin’s books that are most closely related to work situations are:

Success with the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-defense
1989, Prentice-Hall, ISBN 0136886810.
The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense at Work
January 2000, ISBN 0735200890.
How to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable
“Getting Your Point Across With the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense”, 1997, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0471157058.
The Gentle Art of Written Self-Defense
1993, Prentice Hall, ISBN 156731113X.

Many authors have written about the difference in typical male and female patterns of speech and group relationships. For example:

Genderspeak: Men, Women, and the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense
by Suzette Haden Elgin, 1993, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0471580163.
Genderflex: Men & Women Speaking Each Other’s Language at Work
by Judith C. Tingley, 1994, AMACOM, ISBN 0814402666.
He Says She Says: Closing the Communication Gap Between the Sexes
by Lillian Glass, 1995, Perigee, ISBN 0399518126.
Talking from 9 to 5
“Women and Men in the Workplace: Language, Sex, and Power”, by Deborah Tannen, 1995, Avon Books, ISBN 0380717832.

And here are some general books on dealing with difficult people. There are many more!

Dealing With People You Can’t Stand
“How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst”, by Rick Brinkman, Rick Kirschner, Rich Brinkman, 1994, McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0070078386.
Difficult People
“How Deal With Impossible Clients, Bosses and Employees”, by Roberta Cava, 1997, Firefly Books, ISBN 1552091252.
The Anatomy of Persuasion
“How to Persuade Others to Act on Your Ideas, Accept Your Proposals, Buy Your Products or Services, Hire You, Promote you”, by Norbert Aubuchon, 1997, AMACOM, ISBN 0814479529.
Leadership and the Art of Conversation
“Conversation As a Management Tool”, by Kim H. Krisco, 1997, Prima Publishing, ISBN 0761510303.
‘I Wish I’d Said That!’
“How to Talk Your Way Out of Trouble and into Success”>, by Linda McCallister, 1997, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0471176877.


Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In
by Roger Fisher, Willaim Ury, and Bruce Patton, 1981, ISBN 0140157352.
Get Paid What You’re Worth
“The Expert Negotiators Guide to Salary and Compensation”, by Robin L. Pinkley and Gregory B. Northcraft (2000), ISBN 0312242549.


If you want to get seriously into leadership issues (I’m a great believer in leadership, not management, even if I’m not terribly good at it), one of the best is John C. Maxwell, who has written a lot of books on success and leadership. Try these:

Developing the Leader within You
1993, Thomas Nelson, ISBN 0840767447.
Developing the Leaders around You
1995, Thomas Nelson, ISBN 0840767471.