Getting to Yes! (Book Review)

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton says no to compromise. In a book packed with practical advice, the two Harvard professors explain how to find win-win solutions. Their aim is to find solutions that are novel, on par or better than both parties had thought of before, and that will let everyone leave with a satisfactory feeling.

There are four steps in negotiation that will lead you to this kind of a solution. In hindsight, these steps may look very easy, very simplistic even, but they are fundamental and even hard to apply when the heat gets turned up. Here they are:

  1. Separate the people from the problem
  2. Focus on interests, not positions
  3. Invent options for mutual gain
  4. Insist on using objective criteria

Yes but… does that apply to every situation? No, not always the other party will play along with you. That does not mean that you will not be able to get good solutions. Always know what your best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA) is, what will you have when you walk away? If they use dirty tricks, start recognizing them and deflect their impact. And always remember the four lessons.

Next time you are negotiating your salary (or something else) try and incorporate these lessons. Separate your character (person) from the problem. State what your interests are (e.g. new house/car, baby on the way) and not on the position (higher salary). See where you can mutually gain (e.g. more demanding job, flexible hours, lease car). And always use objective criteria (e.g. salary standards for the industry, your performance metrics, etc.).

You will quickly find that by taking these principles in the back of your mind, you will find more favourable solutions, even novel ones. Even when the other party starts with a very negative/uncooperative attitude, they will (in most cases) see the power if interests over positions. Together you can find win-win solutions and create synergies.

More on Getting to Yes!:

http://6thfloor.pp.fi/fgv/gettingtoyes.pdf – Getting to Yes .pdf

http://www.forbes.com/sites/keldjensen/2013/02/05/why-negotiators-still-arent-getting-to-yes/– Article why we are still not getting to yes

http://www.wikisummaries.org/Getting_to_Yes – Summary of Getting to Yes