Book Reviews

Fotini Iconomopoulos. Say Less, Get More: Unconventional Negotiation Techniques to Get What You Want. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2021. 332p. Paper, $22.99 (ISBN: 978-1443459525).

Book cover for Say Less, Get More: Unconventional Negotiation Techniques to Get What You Want

Let’s be honest. Librarians, broadly speaking, could use a boost to their negotiation skills. If you step back and think about it, we negotiate frequently in all aspects of our work. Whether navigating a meeting, discussing the details of a contract, or assisting a patron, this book provides skills and perspectives that will boost confidence and help librarians achieve results.

The author begins by expanding the reader’s perception of “negotiation.” Iconomopoulos presents different types of negotiations on a spectrum from competitive to collaborative. Most people imagine the most competitive styles when they hear the word negotiation: parties squaring off across a table wearing their best poker faces with a goal of getting what they want. In reality, there are many other points on the negotiation spectrum that will be familiar to those in the library profession. For example, negotiations with vendors and service providers often follow the lines of what Iconomopoulos describes as “concession trading.” Concession trading sits in the middle of the author’s spectrum between the extremes of competitive and collaborative styles of negotiation. The individuals involved recognize that there is a value to maintaining a relationship between the parties and that compromising can result in something that everyone can be satisfied with. Moving from the middle of the negotiation spectrum toward the collaborative side, Iconomopoulos describes additional negotiating styles including the Win Win and the Partnership. These styles provide examples of negotiating that librarians practice with peers day to day.

Iconomopoulos emphasizes that recognizing the competitive level type of the negotiation you face can help you take steps to prepare for success. This book prompts the reader to reflect on multiple aspects of any negotiation: who you are negotiating with and what their goals and expectations might be. The author also prompts readers to reflect on where they are and what they want as essential to thoughtfully crafting a successful approach. This emphasis on contemplation and preparation is repeated throughout the book. This key takeaway should be very appealing to members of our profession. As a librarian, I love to do research and document what I have learned so I can put it to work. I have found that I feel more confident and less stressed if I am prepared for a conversation.

The final section focuses on communication. Iconomopoulos stresses the importance of mindset and how it impacts our ability to convey what we mean not only with our words, but with our tone and our body language as well. She highlights the value of taking your time and choosing words wisely. It’s okay to take that pause so you can convey what you want in the most thoughtful and succinct way. The author wraps up the discussion of communication by emphasizing the importance of asking constructive questions, not only as a way to gather knowledge but also to manage conflict. This focus on asking quality questions will appeal to librarian sensibilities; it is reminiscent of a quality reference interview. When conducted skillfully, the librarian has all the information they need to assist an individual, while the person feels supported and engaged.

Iconomopoulos builds pauses for review and reflection between sections of the book. These provide a quick synopsis of key concepts to help readers reflect and digest before introducing new content. The content is light and relatable with a plethora of engaging real-life examples. I found the book to be easily digestible and entertaining, as well as informative.

The past few years have provided librarians with a number of challenging situations to navigate. Negotiation skills are critical to advocate for ourselves, for our staff, and for patrons in the new paradigm. If you are feeling ill equipped, use the lessons in this book to pause the fear and the feelings of powerlessness. Use this resource to develop the skills necessary to stay calm and effectively communicate no matter what the circumstances.—Kathleen Berry, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Copyright Kathleen Berry

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