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Getting To Yes
July 22, 2007, 2:34 am
Filed under: Lifeskills

Personal notes from Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury

How to judge a negotiated agreement

  • A wise agreement
  • Efficiency
  • Improves or at least not damage relationships

The Problem – Bargaining over positions instead of interests

  • One gets locked into a position and one’s ego get gradually linked to the position
  • Arguing over positions is inefficient; more benefits can be obtained from principled negotiation
  • The relationship is endangered
  • There is no point in being nice: it allows others to dominate using positional bargaining

An alternative: Principled negotiation  Рfour basic points

  • People: Seperate the peopl from the problem
  • Interests: Focus on interests, not positions
  • Options: Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do
  • Criteria: Insist that the result be based on some objective standard

The Method

Seperate the people from the problem

  • Negotiators are people first- they have emotions, values and viewpoints.
  • Every negotiator has two kinds of interests: in the substance and in the relationship.
  • The relationship tend to get entangled with the problem.
  • Separate the relationship from the problem: deal directly with the people problem.
  • Put yourself in their shoes, but don’t infer their intentions from your fears.
  • Don’t blame them for your problem.
  • Discuss each other’s perceptions.
  • Look for opportunities to act inconsistently from perceptions.
  • Give them a stake in the outcome by making sure they participate in the process.
  • Face-saving: make sure proposals are consistent with their values.
  • Understand and recognise emotions
  • Make emotions explicit and acknowledge them as 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.
  • Build a working relationship
  • Face the problem, not the people

Focus on interests, not positions

  • For a wise solution reconcile interests, not positions: interests define a problem.
  • Behind a position lies shared or conflicting interests- make a list of interests
  • Ask “why do this” and “why does he not want to do this” when trying to identify interests
  • Recognise each side has multiple interests
  • The most powerful interests relate to basic human needs.
  • Make your interests come alive; being specific is a good guideline for establishing legitimacy.
  • 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 options for mutual gain

  • Avoid premature judgement
  • Avoid searching for a single answer
  • Don’t assume a fixed pie
  • Do not think that solving their problem is solely their problem and not yours
  • Look for mutual gain; identify shared interests and dovetail differing interests
  • Make their decision as easy as possible- reduce the pain

Insist on objective criteria

  • Deciding on the basis of will is costly
  • Developing objective criteria- look for fair standards and fair procedures
  • Frame each issue as a joint search for objective criteria- ask what is your theory and first agree on principles
  • Reason and be open to reason as to which standards are more appropriate and how they should be applied
  • Never yield to pressure, only to principle

What if they are more powerful? – Developing a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement)

  • A BATNA is not a bottom-line- a bottom-line is arbitrary and prevents invention and agreement
  • A BATNA is what you will get should you not negotiate or negotiation fails.
  • The purpose of negotiation is to get more than what you will get if you have not negotiate
  • The BATNA is the basis to which all possible options from negotiation must be compared against.
  • Imagine a far from perfect agreement that is better than one’s BATNA to use as a cautionary tripwire when negotiating to indicate that the option is getting unfeasible.
  • The better your BATNA, the greater your power- power is not about absolute assets, but rather better alternatives
  • Develop your BATNA: invent, look at alternatives, choose the best one
  • Consider the other side’s BATNA

Negotiation jujitsu – focusing on what they may do and inventing solutions

  • The other party might be still stuck in the positional bargaining game.
  • Do not play to their rules; if they attack your idea, do not defend them, if they assert their positions, do not reject them.
  • Don’t attack their position, look behind it for interests
  • Don’t defend your ideas, invite criticism and advice
  • Recast an attack on you as an attack on the problem
  • Ask questions and pause – use silence to your advantage

Dirty Tricks – taming the hard bargainer

  • The standard rule is to identify and call out his strategy. If he intends to play hardball, say that he is doing so and revert back to basing the talks on principles.
  • It is also possible to ignore the other’s tricks, or even make it hard for him to do so by changing the rules of the game.

Most importantly, PRACTISE.


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