Negotiation is the art of creating value. By engaging parties that have some opposing and some mutual interests and bringing them into mutual alignment, we capture and conjure value that would otherwise have evaporated.


"Negotiation is not about winning. It’s about creating mutual value."


As a society, we’re rather dreadful at it. 

We live in worlds of judgment and certainties, clinging to entrenched positions that give us shallow comfort in times of information overload and global chaos. News media declares “right” vs. “wrong”. Social media reinforces that polarization. And our social graphs and media diets likely have us attending only to the voices that remind us that we’re right.

In such an environment, we’re losing our ability to see nuance, to empathise with another’s position. And therefore we’re losing our ability to collaborate and create value.The more “certain” we become in our positions, the less we can see the other side. And if we can’t see the other side, we’ll be very weak negotiators indeed.

It’s an irony we’re not comfortable embracing: if you are to get what you really want, it’s necessary to know what your target wants, too. And even to help them get it.

This book will teach you to fight that powerful cultural tide, to see multiple perspectives, and to create more value for yourself and those you work with, live with, compete with. Being a negotiator is a way of being, and a way of looking at the world: it’s an ongoing search for better net outcomes as a result of two or more parties coming together to collaborate.

It’s an endeavor that will bring you much satisfaction in life. This book is your invitation to a very noble pastime: to be a true negotiator.

About Your Guide

Trained by the British Diplomatic Service.  Studied International Relations and Security Studies at the London School of Economics and Georgetown University.  Founded The Frontier Project, one of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Leads discrete market investigations, brokers opportunities, and provides negotiation support for Fortune 100 companies, global non-profits, disruptive start-ups. Consults to boardrooms, negotiates in back rooms, speaks to ballrooms. Scott is one of the most sought-after advisors and speakers to contemporary leaders.

What this is. What this isn't.

There are some truly great books written on the theory of negotiation, and we offer our top reading recommendations at the end of this book. Richly researched and philosophically sound, they are foundational and essential—and numerous.

Theory is helpful. But sometimes you need more than abstraction. You need a guidebook for simply getting negotiation done. In our experience, there’s plenty available to help you think about negotiation, but little good out there that tells you how to do it. 

Hence this book: a brief guide to help you negotiate with customers and co-workers, clients and competitors, and even neighbors and family members. It’s not designed to quote the research. You can find that someplace else. Instead, this is a handbook that describes the techniques and practices that will help you create new habits, eventually making you an instinctive, mutual-interest negotiator.  

Why Cartography?

We in the West adore process. We like structure and step-by-step instructions. Business schools, in particular, encourage systems thinking and six-sigma-like approaches. 

Negotiation doesn’t work that way.  There isn’t a “negotiation process.” And if you try to use one, any gifted negotiator will identify it, undermine it, and wreck your fixed process.

Each negotiation is different.  Some techniques typically come before others. But we’re dealing with complex issues and complex parties (i.e., highly emotional homo sapiens). Negotiations are iterative and circular. They jump around, abstractly connecting unexpected issues. 

This book is written to reflect that. Read this book the beginning to end. Or don’t: bounce around, if you like, from one topic to another.

Every great negotiator lays out a map for each particular negotiation, with the understanding that there are always more ways to journey toward a place than one can possibly predetermine. The work is analogous to that of a cartographer: You map out the issues, take note of the shifting landscape, and consider all the potential approaches to the final destination. 

It’s a science, but a highly interpretive one. Thus: The Cartography of Negotiation. Read the book as you’d read a map or a travel guide, not a business book or a novel. There are seven sections, but they don’t represent seven truths or seven principles or seven lighthouses or seven mountains. They’re merely containers for thought, insight, and preparation. 


We could have created complex business-school like tools for this book—lots of diagrams with arrows and inverted triangles and a Venn or two.  They would have sounded fancy and complicated, but you wouldn’t use them. So instead we’ve created minimalistic tools that are more you than us. Simple prompts followed by open white spaces, similar to the back of a serviette, where you scribble ideas late at night in a hotel bar. Because given how busy you are, that’s probably where you’ll be doing your prep. 

Small Punch-Packing Book

Size isn’t everything.  Most business books have one or two great concepts that could be covered in an article.  But their publishers force their authors to fluff them out to big-book-size to sell as impressive things to put on one’s office shelf (and to help the publishers swell their margins).

This book’s size is proportionate to its content. It’s meant to be small but mighty. And portable: I hope you will carry this around with you. Bend its spine. Re-read the passages that you need most. Scribble on its pages.  Critique it. If you think it’s shit, let us know. If it’s transformative of your process, let us know that too.