Category: Business
Publication date: May 30, 2023
Extent: 220 pages

Once Upon a Deal…

Stories about life, work and negotiation

Horace McDonald


Negotiation is everywhere. Even though we use it all the time – at work, at home, with family and friends – many of us are negotiating without realising it. Negotiation can be described as the process of getting what we want, from people who want something from us and is an art built around the science of a defined process, the Scotwork 8-Step Framework.

For a number of years, our negotiation experts have written about the issues of the day and have compiled a selection of negotiation stories for this book. Once Upon a Deal… brings colour to our framework to help you think differently about negotiation and help you be more in control and confident to enable you to get what you want and contribute to enhanced collaborative interactions.

Get ready…

SCOTWORK has been in the business of developing capability in commercial negotiation for nearly 50 years: these entertaining stories are drawn from the team’s extensive and rich experience across many sectors and situations


This book can showcase a new way of approaching negotiations training and skills development. You will find a model of approaching negotiations that has eight stages: preparation, argument, signalling, proposing, packaging bargaining, closing and agreement. The authors walk you through each stage via storytelling and providing examples. This makes the book easy to read, comprehend and observe theory application in practice. Nice book that can be useful for any party in negotiations.


Useful and accessible content, engagingly written. Highly recommended window into the art of negotiating.


Lots of great, practical hints wrapped up in thorough knowledge and experience told in an entertaining and readable way


Very interesting, fun and educational – lots to take away from this book. Highly recommended!


Simple stories that explain complex concepts and provides practical tips



As a fan of negotiation theory and a lover of great storytelling, Once Upon a Deal… makes the theory really come alive through entertaining and compelling anecdotes. From negotiating with the EU to negotiating with your mother and from negotiating the price of a hotel room to negotiating with your dog to keep him from chasing grouse, this book shows how having a solid negotiation plan will always get you better results. Once Upon a Deal… will show you how to think like Stephen Hawking and Abraham Lincoln and even show you how to negotiate a gold medal at the Olympic Games. It takes an academically proven theory, on which Scotwork’s worldclass training is based, and illuminates it through a wonderful collection of stories. You’ll earn the price of the book back a thousand-fold! Ben Ficke – Global Procurement Director, Whitbread

An outstanding compilation that allows us to draw up the experiences of others to help with your own negotiation journey. Bobby Singh – SVP, Global Commercial Officer, WPP

As a publisher, I believe in the power of storytelling and Once Upon a Deal… applies this most effective tool to the art of negotiation. These stories, distilled from years of knowledge and application, and told in an engaging, absorbing manner will enhance any reader’s skills in this area. David Young – Retired CEO of Hachette Book Group, USA

Once Upon a Deal… distils complex negotiating theory into a series of simple, practical, thought-provoking stories that will not only entertain you but may well save you a couple of quid too. Ali Cowen – Group Head of People, Beck-Pollitzer

If more business books were as useful, concise and fun to read as Once Upon a Deal…, the business world would be a better place. Enlightened with witty anecdotes and valuable lessons on life, work and negotiations… and whether we admit it or not, many of us will relate to the characters and situations in its pages! A go to reference book for anyone involved in the complex world of negotiation. Steven Mills – Procurement Transformation Director, Thales UK

It’s not often that a nonfiction book is exciting, but not only does this book excite, it expands the mind and creates an incredible space to think, learn and shape. Turning naturally dull subjects into intriguing, mind blowing pieces of wisdom. Your brain is taken on an empowering journey, giving you the hunger to learn. Lucy Mills – HR/L&D Manager, SPAR

An invaluable guide to life – I just wish I’d read it 30 years ago! Jane Garvey – Award Winning Broadcaster

Once Upon a Deal… not only offers insightful, thought provoking strategies and analysis, it also provides real world practical advice on how to navigate and succeed in the of the art of negotiation. Horace has managed to distil his vast experience into a simple but compelling read. A fantastic for tool for all. Amadu Sowe – Senior Vice President, Paramount

A lively and entertaining guide to the often undervalued art of negotiation that is full of practical advice and tips on how to end up with the best possible deal. Jonathan Prynn – Associate Editor, Evening Standard

Once Upon a Deal… is illustrative of everything Scotwork does so well: story-telling at its best combined with immediately useful tips & skills. In fact, it’s the second-best book Scotwork have written: number one is the little blue Filofax I got from the course which still refer to daily 6 years on. John Philliskirk – Senior Manager Consulting, PwC


1. In the Bubble
How preparation gives you a shot at the title
2. The Infinite Negotiation Monkey Cage
Preparation & Practice makes Perfect
3. Another fine mess!
The perils of the poor teamwork
4. Who prepares wins!
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail -Abraham Lincoln
5. The Computer Says No
Computers manage tasks, negotiation requires skill
6. Leverage
Be careful not to underestimate the Power you have…
7. Another Red Line Breached
Inflexibility is a straitjacket in negotiation
8. On the Ropes
If data is at play, make sure you’ve mastered it
9. Negotiating Advice for Politicians

When will they ever learn
10. My Mother and the EU
Beware of making the future a certainty…
1. Is This the Right Room for an Argument?
Too much persuasion limits negotiation
2. Creativity; It’s the Future
“Remember to look at the stars not down at your feet”
3. No Hard Feelings
Good negotiators understand how to manage their behaviour and the other party’s
4. 6 Second Delay
Taking time under pressure
5. Going through the motions!
Attention and listening gives you an advantage
6. Show up and throw up!
Constructive dialogue is more about listening than talking…
7. Who needs negotiators when you have processes?
The perils of letting the machines replace the conversation
8. Nice but not dim
The perils of losing out by being too Agreeable…
9. Give to Get – When Persuasion Doesn’t Work
When it’s time to stop selling and start negotiating…

1. Mind Your Language!
Why precision is important
2. Liar, Liar Pants on Fire
Some word of caution about lying
3. It’s only words…
The importance of non-verbal communication
4. Mind Your Language
Listen carefully, the subtleties are important
5. Unconscious Bias
It’s still out there, we’re all still susceptible
6. An Opinion-Free Blog
Saying it doesn’t make it true
7. Haircut 101
The same approach won’t work in every situation…

1. There’s never anything on anyway
If you don’t ask, you don’t get…
2. Strictly Come Negotiating
Dancing to the beat of a better deal…
3. Inside room only…
You CAN always get what you want…
4. High Bar of Collaboration
Even sports people can see the advantages of collaboration over competition
5. Tell Them What You Want
Take advantage by making your proposal first
6. Bad Golf
The power of a proposal
7. Cash or Card
The more specific your proposal, the better
8. Open Buying
Develop alternative (creative) strategies in your negotiations…

1. Not Going To
If the deal doesn’t work, try an incentive
2. Me, myself and I!
The power of good advice
3. Play Nice!
Packaging for power and control
4. Taxi!
Managing Complexity
5. The Right Thing
Annabel Shorter
6. Gaining “Friendly” Advantage
Harnessing the power of the collective
7. Embrace Your Inner Flamingo
The dangers of meeting the wrong needs
8. Be a negotiator – tinkle the ivories!
Repackaging to create value
9. Get your kicks from future-proofed deals – it’s all a matter of goals!
The future isn’t certain, but it can be planned for

10. Having your cake, and eating it
Asking question to better understand the other party’s needs
11. Car Trouble
Packaging for success
12. A Van Story
The importance of know what you want and how you can get it when you have a complaint
13. Loss Adjusters
Always get to give

1. Four Rooms
Be careful of how far you drive price, you get what you pay for
2. Sack Black Friday
Deals are often not as good as they seem, act with caution
3. A Right Royal Deal?
If you overestimate your power, you can expect this to be reflected by the
counter-party’s response
4. Do You Want a Cake or Just a Slice of Cake?
Good negotiators think value NOT price
5. Internet Shopping – Not As Much As You Could Wish For?
The advantages of Bargaining Face to Face
6. A Fine Line
Beware of exercising too much power in your dealmaking, circumstances
7. Same Page Negotiations
Managing complex Bargaining situations
8. Who Do You Think You Are?
Progressive Bargaining for a better deal
9. The Power of No
The dangers of being too greedy

1. Muck Shift
Just when is a deal not a deal…?
2. Members of the Jury!!
The power of a powerful unifying final statement (of intent)
3. It ain’t over
Keeping dealing to the very end
4. Getting Into Hot Water
When faced with two sources of legitimate information, don’t sit on the
fence, make a call
5. How do you measure success?
Focus on your objectives, not screwing the other party

1. Precision Blindness
The devil’s in the detail, ignore it at your peril…
2. Climate of Change
Assume nothing until the money’s in the bank…
3. Getting It Done!!
Make sure that everyone in the deal understand their responsibilities in its implementation
1. It’s a dog’s life
All 8-Steps in one…



Paperback / 9781788604116 / May 30, 2023 / £14.99

Ebook / 9781788604130 / May 29, 2023 / £7.99

Paperback and eBook Bundle / £16.99


Horace McDonald

Horace McDonald has spent his career managing clients or people and fell into negotiation by accident. It never ceases to amaze him how little people understand it.
The team of negotiation experts at Scotwork regularly post short stories on the company’s blog illustrating the way in which this essential skill for life and business plays out in companies around the world every day.
Scotwork has been in the business of developing capability in commercial negotiation for nearly 50 years, and continues to lead the way in helping people not just negotiate better, but enjoy the process more.