Negotiation skill is not a luxury or only the responsibility of a certain group of people anymore. In fact, we live now in an era where negotiation becomes a core competency. Whether we negotiate formally or informally, we cannot just depend on some old strategies such as avoiding conflict or focusing on creating a win-win scenario. We need to look at new strategies to “Getting to Yes” in an efficient way, that creates a wise agreement and that improves the relationships between the two parties.
In this book, Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, the authors provided a four-step method that is called “principled negotiation” or “negotiation on the merits”. The four steps are:
- People: separate the people from the problem.
- Interests: focus on interest, not positions.
- Options: invent multiple options looking for mutual gains before deciding what to do.
- Criteria: insist that the result be based on some objective standard.
This is the first book I read that has a very straight to the point summary. They called it “analytical table of content” which I think it is a smart way that can be used to keep remembering the mentioned negotiation method.
Here are my takeaways from the book.
Separate the people from the problem
How to do that?
- Put yourself in their shoes
- Don’t deduce their intentions from your fears
- Don’t blame them for your problem
- Discuss each other’s perceptions
- Look for opportunities to act inconsistently with their perceptions
- Give them a stake in the outcome by making sure they participate in the process
- Face-saving: Make your proposals consistent with their values
- First recognize and understand emotions, theirs and yours
- Make emotions explicit and acknowledge themas legitimate
- Allow the other side to let off steam
- Don’t react to emotional outbursts
- Use symbolic gestures
- Listen actively and acknowledge what is being said
- Speak to be understood
- Speak about yourself, not about them
- Speak for a purpose
- Prevention works best
- Build a working relationship
- Face the problem, not the people
Focus on interest, not positions
How do you identify interests?
- Ask “Why?”
- Ask “Why not?” Think about their choice
- Realize that each side has multiple interests
- The most powerful interests are basic human needs
- Make a list
- Talking about interests
- Make your interests come alive
- Acknowledge their interests as part of the problem
- Put the problem before your answer
- Look forward, not back
- Be concrete but flexible
- Be hard on the problem, soft on the people
Invent multiple options looking for mutual gains before deciding what to do
- Separate inventing new ideas from deciding on which one will work. This can be achieved by using structured brainstorming sessions.
- Broaden your options by shuttling between the specific and the general: The Circle Chart.
- Look through the eyes of different experts
- Invent agreements of different strengths
- Change the scope of a proposed agreement
- Look for mutual gain through identifying shared interests, dovetail differing interests, reconcile for any difference in interests, beliefs..etc.
- Make their decision easy
Insist that the result be based on some objective standard
- Developing objective criteria
- Ask “What’s your theory?”
- Agree first on principles
The book is written for lawyers and businessmen who have to deal with negotiation in a very structured and complex way. I don’t think that the principles that were illustrated in the book are used easily for our daily life; however, given that the book is short and discusses the concept in a very concise way, it was a good read.