The Bartering Mindset Book Summary - The Bartering Mindset Book explained in key points
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The Bartering Mindset summary

Brian C. Gunia

A Mostly Forgotten Framework for Mastering Your Next Negotiation

3.9 (64 ratings)
18 mins
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    The Bartering Mindset
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    The monetary mind-set leads to a narrow-minded approach to negotiation.

    If you’ve ever read a book on negotiation, then you might be familiar with the concept of distributive behavior. The term refers to employing competitive tactics when negotiating, like using persuasion or making sure that you’re the first to make an offer. Most negotiators rely on distributive behavior, in part because it achieves results: statistically, people who make the first offer are more likely to get the better deal in their negotiations. 

    But if we look more closely, we can see that people also rely on distributive behavior because of their monetary mind-set, which intrinsically lends itself to this kind of strategy. 

    When you come to the negotiation table with the monetary mind-set, you bring a set of assumptions with you. For one, you see yourself as one side of a conflict between parties with opposing objectives. You also assume that a better deal for one party inherently means a worse deal for the other. In most cases, this leads buyer and seller to seek a compromise, which helps avoid conflict but also means each party takes a smaller slice from a smaller pie.

    A good example of distributive behavior as the result of a monetary mind-set is US President Donald Trump’s behavior when he demanded that Mexico finance a border wall between the two countries. Mexican President Enrique Peña rejected Trump’s plan, and it quickly became clear that the two men saw their positions as mutually exclusive. That made compromise necessary if both parties wanted to avoid further conflict. 

    But what if we didn’t have to compromise when we negotiated? That’s where integrative behavior comes in. Integrative behavior aims to appease opposing parties’ mutual interests by using strategies such as trust building or information exchange. Using integrative behavior, we can widen the scope of our negotiations so that each party gets more rather than both parties meeting in the middle. 

    Research has shown repeatedly that successful negotiators use both integrative and distributive behaviors to achieve optimal results. Yet research such as that published in the 2013 Forbes article “Negotiators Still Aren’t Getting to Yes” shows that even people well-versed in negotiation techniques still aren’t employing integrative behaviors. Though incorporating integrative behaviors is clearly the best practice, our monetary mind-set leads us to negotiate distributively.

    If we want to become skilled negotiators, we need to adopt a mind-set that lends itself to integrative behavior. As we’ll see, the bartering mind-set does just that. Follow it and all parties involved will get a bigger slice from a bigger pie.

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    What is The Bartering Mindset about?

    The Bartering Mindset (2019) details a method for negotiation that applies the mind-set of bartering economies of the past, in which people traded goods and services to get what they needed, to today’s monetary economy. By breaking down the bartering mind-set into a five-step process, these blinks will help you cultivate a more sophisticated approach to negotiating.

    Who should read The Bartering Mindset?

    • Professionals looking for a new approach to negotiation
    • Psychologists and economists
    • Historians and anthropologists interested in an interdisciplinary look into bartering

    About the Author

    Brian C. Gunia is an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. His research focuses on how people can help their careers through ethical behavior, effective negotiation and sufficient sleep. His work has been published in journals including Academy of Management Journal and Journal of Applied Psychology.  

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