Book Review- Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

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.

cvr9781442339538_9781442339538_hrIn 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:

  1. People: separate the people from the problem.
  2. Interests: focus on interest, not positions.
  3. Options: invent multiple options looking for mutual gains before deciding what to do.
  4. 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.

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