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Negotiating the Impossible: How to Break Deadlocks and Resolve Ugly Conflicts (Without Money or Muscle)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  565 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Negotiating the Impossible
How to Break Deadlocks and Resolve Ugly Conflicts (without Money or Muscle)

Some negotiations are easy. Others are more difficult. And then there are situations that seem hopeless. Conflict is escalating, people are getting aggressive, and no one is willing to back down. And to top it off, you have little power, money, or other resources to work w
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 4th 2016 by Berrett-Koehler Publishers
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Tigran Mamikonian
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I’ve bought this book per recommendation of my Harvard friends in HBS campus, who were impressed by the professor Deepak course on Negotiations. The book is really fantastic. I read it in a couple of weeks, but was analyzing for more than a month...

The theme of negotiations is one of my favorites so I couldn’t miss this book. From the very first pages I liked the book very much. The book was in a very resonating idea: “… do not harry to use muscle or throwing money at the problem - negotiate bet
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are a few books with great tactical advise for you to take away for your daily life. It could be either for your own personal relationships to business dealings. Highly recommend this book for everyone to read.

This book shows that there is more to negotiation that muscle and money. It show cases the power of framing, following the process and lastly empathy.

“These include many of the ideas we have considered throughout the book—for example: control the frame, be mindful of the optics, he
Anirudh Ramanathan
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book; I highly recommend it.
It is an in-depth study of so many different kinds of conflict - from wars, to corporate boardrooms to venture capital. From hundreds of anecdotes, it draws actionable insights that one can put to use in everyday life to become more effective negotiators.
Nov 26, 2021 rated it liked it
This one was okay. I am often skeptical of books about business — they end up reading like a mash-up of anecdotes without any repeatable strategies of how to think or first principles of how to approach conflict.

Some chapters were helpful to me: Chapter two about the power of framing / constructing mutually satisfactory royalty rates is something I can apply immediately. In general, though, I’d say I’m coming away with some stories that represent interesting perspectives to keep in mind, like th
Terry Ozanne
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Is this the only book on negotiation you need to read? No.
First book you should read? No.
Will it change my life? Maybe not.

This is, however a good bunch of principles and examples for negotiation.

I would also recommend “negotiation Genius” also co-authored by Deepak. I would recommend reading Negotiation Genius first.

Both books are heavy on examples. I find examples very useful & hopefully these (with another listen or two) will come to mind when negotiating in every day life. And negotiation of
Michael Burnam-Fink
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
I tend to take the same approach to negotiation that Bruce Willis did in The Fifth Element. Not to surprise anybody, but it hasn't worked very well. So when I saw a short article by the author exploring how to build an exit ramp for Trump supporters after the 2016 election, I figured that I should read this book.

Malhotra offers 89 principles based on his years of experience as a professional business negotiator, and drawing from historical examples, and divided into categories of framing, proces
Jun 08, 2021 rated it liked it
Written in a similar fashion to “Getting To Yes,” but slightly more inviting due to the handful of interesting historical examples. Decent book on the subject.


Objectively identical proposals can be made more or less attractive simply by how they are presented.

Control the frame of the negotiation in order to make it seem like a collaborative problem-solving session rather than a adversarial debate.

Always educate the other side at the beginning of the discussion about the limits of what you can
Sean Liu
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best negotiating book I've read, providing principles and frameworks you can apply to not just formal negotiations, but all human interactions. Deadly stuff.


The importance of helping the other side back down - When someone stubbornly insists on making demands you cannot possibly meet early in a negotiation, it is a sign you have failed to set the appropriate expectations for what is possible. This can lead to the other side to ask for concessions that are true deal breakers for you. This is wh
Apr 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
This book gives a solution that includes three parts: framework, process, empathy. It's really very learned. From business to politics, it is relevant. Think about it in detail if you can use it on a daily basis.

Let me talk about the framework first. It talks about labor negotiations in the NBA. As the richest wage earner in the world, it is difficult for NBA players and bosses to agree on salary. Later, a comprehensive direction was given, including three forms of comprehensive versions. Althou
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Negotiating the Impossible: How to Break Deadlocks and Resolve Ugly Conflicts (Without Money or Muscle) by Deepak Malhotra was chosen by Soundview Executive Book Summaries as one of the Top Business Books of 2016.


Some negotiations are easy. Others are more difficult. And then there are situations that seem completely hopeless. Conflict is escalating, people are getting aggressive and no one is willing to back down. And to top it off, you have little power or other resource
Dio Handoyo
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting premise. Follows the common "business book" format of a collection of structured maxims supported with selected anecdotal evidence - hence easy to follow, but not immune to the (also commonly-found) problem of example presented and point being made not perfectly matching.

All in all, rather enjoyable and informative. Nice little caveat at the end which essentially says "these are guidelines, application will differ in each situation". As with everything in life, this is true. However
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“History typically begins the first time I did the right thing or you did the wrong thing - not the other way around” - Negotiating The Impossible

This one garners 5 stars, not in less because of its profound yet simple approach to any negotiation challenges. There are endless tactics and no one is global in solving every negotiation problem - the book admits as such and instead harps on three broad principles - Framing, Process and Empathy, with fascinating real world examples of successful and
James Bowers
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Discusses negotiations from the drafting of the Constitution (James Madison's role was crucial) to the Cuban Missile Crisis to David Schwimmer/Friends cast negotiating a higher raise. For example, each cast member was expendable if they asked for too much money, but Schwimmer argued they all should get the same pay and work collectively on pay negotiations. Each piece of advice is tied into the applications...."Your willingness to incur up-front costs in support of the process sends a credible s ...more
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
I can see that this book is based on a course and while I would love that course and it seems fun, it does not translate well into a book.

I would expect more depth from the book, but most of it is just looking at some examples of negotiation in history and anecdotes that may or may not be true.

There are many better books on negotiating out there that go into more details about how, when, and why you should use particular negotiating tactics.
Alok Kejriwal
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
A brilliant read with real-world examples to complement the lessons and principles taught

The diversity of case studies is amazing. From the NFL to the soap opera FRIENDS to radio and television in Saudi Arabia, these stories bring a very contextual flavour to the world we live and operate in

A must-read for entrepreneurs, business people and professionals for sure...
Cengiz AYDIN
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s hard to remember let alone internalize all strategies and tactics about effective negotiation. Yet it is a reference book to look up what tools are available in your specific case. By the time one should expect o learn the art of negotiation based on science, which is well covered in this book. Worth reading and reflection on it.
Oct 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Malhotra does a great job of offering insight from historical examples; highlight the best and worse decisions that you'll find in negotiations. It doesn't offer a deep dive into analyzing every move, but provdes great information that offers insight into how you can learn and apply the lessons easily. Definitely worth the read. ...more
Alejandro Restrepo Zea
Without muscles or money

I think is a good book for negotiations, ever dealing with human interception will be the most challenging in all contexts and this book teaching through the historical stories how you should do that.
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
One of the key takeaways from this book is this. Be open in negotiation to discuss different aspects of a deal. If necessary, negotiate all possible in directions and do not focus just on one matter.
Always approach negotiations being prepared for what's coming.
Rob Wotherspoon
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nice addition to the field of writing on principles and practices of negotiation; this one focuses on the use of framing, development of process to support substantive negotiations and importance of empathy to breakthrough intractable issues and find value in negotiations. Highly recommended.
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An original book on a very specific yet important aspect of every adult’s life ‘negotiating’ . The author uses several interesting use cases to explain his principles . I need to read this again to register the principles mentioned .
Stephen Gonzalez
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
There are some great negotiation stories/case studies interspersed throughout the book, which ultimately serve to keep the reader engaged. That said, the book can be quite dry in the middle-late chapters of each section and is (like many business books) a bit overwritten.
Harmeet Singh
Jul 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Unfortunately for me, I first watched a YouTube video of Prof Deepak Malhotra on the same topic of negotiations and the book had kind of the same content. Anyways , liked the way he wrote this with small anecdotes as examples while explaining his points.
Oct 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
While I was readint it, I was so disappointed that my university haven't thought me about negotiation. Perfect book for nailing the negotiation skills. From my lawyer work I noticed thousands of possibilities when information in this book could be used. Highly recommend 🤓 ...more
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
well structured book, with real-world examples that bring to life the theory
Ankur Bhardwaj
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One to the best book on developing and understanding negotiations !! highly recommended
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Mostly a historical overview of famous negotiations and how to apply to current situation.
Adri Nurellari
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very practical and informative book with plenty of very useful examples. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn how to face complicated situations.
Alex Lyashok
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audible
Nice examples
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing pack of useful frameworks and principles of performance during easy and not so negotiations.
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Deepak Malhotra is a professor at the Harvard Business School. His teaching, research and advisory work is focused on negotiation, deal-making, conflict resolution and diplomacy. In 2020, Deepak was named MBA "Professor of the Year" by Poets & Quants. He has won numerous awards for his teaching & research, including the HBS Faculty Award, and has been twice selected by Harvard MBA students to give ...more

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20 likes · 4 comments
“But in my experience, there is one way to signal your commitment to process that all negotiations provide: Always keep your word, even when it is costly. The best deal makers and diplomats take very seriously the promises and commitments they have made to the other side on small things and big. This is not only the right thing to do; it is a tremendously powerful instrument in deal making. Especially in difficult, protracted conflicts where negotiating itself might be seen as risky or useless, often the only source of leverage you have for bringing the other side to the table is your credibility. And once you’re at the table, mistrust is often the biggest barrier to the give-and-take necessary for progress, because many of the concessions either side commits to are not deliverable right away—promises of equitable treatment, power sharing, future benefits, etc. are necessarily premised on trust. If you have not built up a reputation for credibility, you are ill-suited to negotiate such deals.” 3 likes
“Do not force people to choose between doing what is smart and doing what helps them save face.” 3 likes
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