The Seven Strategies of Master Negotiators: Featuring Real-Life Insights from Canada's Top Negotiators


261 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-07-089887-1
DDC 658.4'052





Reviewed by Louise Karch

Louise Karch is a career consultant with Carswell Partners in London, Ontario.


Drawing on interviews with Canada’s top negotiators from the private,
public, and government sectors, this excellent book presents seven
negotiation strategies and supports them with technique explanations,
behind-the-scenes descriptions, theoretical models, and
skill-development exercises.

In his first chapter, “Build the Future with Creative Solutions,”
McRae describes the outcry for increased funding for policing in
Brantford, Ontario, that followed violent attacks on taxi drivers and
convenience-store workers. This policing solution was costly and of
questionable effectiveness. The negotiated solution was to locate taxi
rest stops in front of stores. Like so many brilliant solutions, it’s
obvious once stated.

McRae points out that good negotiators must train themselves to be
creative in order to be effective and strategic. He provides tools,
exercises, models, and evaluation forms, and he even suggests that
readers keep a log of negotiated solutions to develop their creativity.
The book comes alive with stories from business, labour, government,
Native bands, activism, and philanthropy. Lloyd Axworthy’s explanation
of the negotiations that led to the treaty to ban landmines is not too
far from Buzz Hargrove’s tale of how the GM negotiator had to be fired
because he would not move on gay and lesbian spousal rights.

Two examples of the negotiation principles that McRae teaches are
“The Law of Four” and the “importance of going wide before going
deep.” The first principle means that negotiators are advised to
generate at least four different solutions, and the second is to
consider all ideas before diving fully into any one.

This is a hard book to criticize. One editing oversight is that the
acronym BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) is introduced
in a summary list a few pages before it’s explained. That minuscule
error is more than overcome by the breadth and quality of McRae’s


McRae, Bard., “The Seven Strategies of Master Negotiators: Featuring Real-Life Insights from Canada's Top Negotiators,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,