You can negotiate anything by Herb Cohen

Audio version available:

  • Author: Herb Cohen
  • Genre: Career & Success, Personal Development

The author

Cohen has worked as a corporate/government negotiator, strategy consultant, and crisis manager. He is the author of You can negotiate anything, which was the new york times bestseller for 9 months during 1982.

In 1980, Herb Cohen was declared “The World’s Best Negotiator” by Playboy magazine. In addition, the Time Magazines June 1981 issue stated. “If you are ever in a crucial life-changing negotiation, the person you want on your side of the table is Herb Cohen.” He was also called upon to save 52 hostages from Iran during the Carter administration.

The book:


You can negotiate anything is quite old, it was written in the 1980s by Herb Cohen. However, the principles taught can be applied to real-world situations today. Cohen talks about negotiating through storytelling and case studies. The book itself helps you negotiate in any scenario. Whether you are buying a house or fridge. The negotiating principles Cohen talks about will help you.

Part 1

The book is split into 4 parts and 12 chapters. Part one talks about what negotiating is, how you are constantly negotiating, and getting your feet wet. Getting your feet wet talks about basic negotiation strategies for buying items. In that particular scenario, Cohen and his wife walk into a store to buy a fridge.

Some of the strategies taught are:

Generate competition

Ask when something goes on sale

Let the other party know your needs are not satisfied to adjust the price

Discuss other options like a trade in to adjust the price

Part 2

Part two is about the three crucial variables in negotiations. Which are power (authority), time (deadlines), and information (information you possess about the other side or vice versa). Cohen has various case studies and stories to explain each set of variables. Part two of the book is arguably one of the most imperative parts.

Some of the strategies taught are:

If you know the deadline of the other party, you will have the upper hand.

Do not have someone with too much authority negotiate, they can make impulsive decisions and bet against themselves.

Find out the non verbal needs of the other party and use them to your advantage.

Part 3

Part three of the book talks about different styles of negotiating. Additionally, it mentions how/why to avoid certain types of negotiators. The three negotiating styles mentioned are: Winning at all costs (What Cohen calls “The soviet style), Negotiating for mutual satisfaction, and The win-win strategy. The last two are in fact connected to each other. Essentially the types of negotiators can be broken down into 2 styles. The one who wants to win at all costs and the one who seeks mutual satisfaction (wants it to be a win-win).

Part 4

Part four is about negotiating anything, anywhere. There are three scenarios mentioned in this part.

1) Telephone negotiations and memos of agreement (Tips and benefits of negotiating on the phone)

2)  Moving up (Moving up the chain of command: i.e at a hotel or store until you get what you want)

3) Taking it personally (When you appear as a human instead of a corporation or large organization, people are more likely to empathize and identify with you. Organizations are abstract to humans)

Note: We have not gone in-depth with the principles taught in this book, because we plan to teach the principles taught in this book through our stories. We have already released stories about some of the strategies mentioned in this book. Be sure to check them out!


Overall, you can negotiate anything by Herb Cohen is an awesome book for anyone who desires to learn about negotiating. The book itself is a quick read, it is only around 250 pages.

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