Gerard I. Nierenberg, 89; lawyer wrote ‘Art of Negotiating’
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NEW YORK — Gerard I. Nierenberg — a lawyer whose frustration with the adversarial nature of legal disputes led him to develop methods of negotiating that he promoted in training seminars and popular books, including ‘‘The Art of Negotiating’’ and ‘‘How to Read a Person Like a Book’’ — died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 89.
His wife, Juliet, confirmed his death.
Mr. Nierenberg founded the Negotiation Institute in Manhattan in 1966 and spent four decades delivering a succinct message.
‘‘In a successful negotiation,’’ he would say, ‘‘everybody wins.’’
He had been running a real estate law practice in New York in the early 1960s when he came to the conclusion that he and many other people spent an enormous amount of time negotiating at work and at home and yet had no formal training in how to do it. Too often, he found, negotiating meant trying to win at all costs.
‘‘If you’re going to try to make everyone else lose who plays with you and you think life’s a game, how far do you think you’re going to get in life?’’ he said in an interview in 1983. ‘‘Everyone’s going to try to beat you. And, boy, that makes a hell of a life.’’
Mr. Nierenberg published ‘‘The Art of Negotiating’’ in 1968 and soon began advising corporations, government entities, and academic groups. He argued that women were naturally suited to be successful negotiators.
‘‘If you take a man and a woman without any formal training and put them in the same situation, you will find the woman tends to rely on intuition,’’ he told The New York Times in 1971. ‘‘In the end, this is what a mature negotiator finally does. He relies on intuition.’’
“How to Read a Person Like a Book,’’ written with Henry H. Calero and published in 1972, advised people on how to read body language.
“I can feel exactly what a person is feeling at the moment by just looking at him,’’ he said in an interview in 1987.
Gerard Irwin Nierenberg was born in 1923, in Queens. His father ran a business selling burglar alarms.
Besides his wife, he leaves three sons, Roy, Roger, and George, and six grandchildren. George Nierenberg is the president of the Negotiation Institute. Roger Nierenberg is a conductor who has developed a teaching program that uses an orchestra as a model for improving group dynamics and function in other fields.
Roger Nierenberg said that much of his father’s thinking about negotiating was rooted in his interest in general semantics, a field within linguistics that views words as labels that distract attention from the things they represent.
His father, Roger said, was interested in ‘‘how we know what we know’’ and how that ‘‘locks us into self-limiting the kinds of choices we can make.’’
Juliet Nierenberg said that she and her husband had their share of arguments, but that they both tried to practice what he preached at home.
“I could always rely on reminding him, or he would remind me, about the principles of negotiation,’’ she said.