Getting to Yes Book Summary, by Roger Fisher, William Ury

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Judging Negotiation Styles: Hard vs. Soft

Positional bargaining is the most common form of negotiation. In this type of arrangement, you and your opponent take turns offering different positions. You lock yourself into a stance, which makes it difficult to change your mind later on. For example, if you’re negotiating a salary for a job opening and decide that $50K is the minimum acceptable amount, then you will have trouble accepting an offer of $45K in future negotiations because it would make you look like you were willing to accept less than what was initially offered. This process can be tedious and stressful as people try to outdo each other with their offers until one person gives up or becomes frustrated enough to walk away from the deal entirely.

Many people recognize the risk of hard positional bargaining and take a softer approach. They treat the other side as friends, emphasize agreement, and make concessions to avoid confrontation. This is efficient in producing agreements quickly, but may not be wise because it does not take each party’s underlying interests into account. Any negotiation where relationships are the primary concern runs the risk of producing shabby agreements that favor one side over another. Those who pursue soft positional bargaining are vulnerable to negotiators who play hardball.

Change the Game

Should you use soft or hard bargaining tactics? Neither. Instead, change the game and make a different kind of deal.

The Harvard Negotiation Project developed an alternative to traditional negotiation. Instead of attacking the positions that people take, they should focus on their underlying interests. That way, the parties can work together to come up with a solution that satisfies everyone’s interests instead of just arguing about whether or not something is fair.

  1. When you’re under pressure and have to solve a problem, it can be hard. If there’s someone who stands in your way or if you don’t know what else to do, you might not think as creatively. To help with this, set aside time for coming up with options that will work well for everyone involved while also finding creative ways to settle differences between parties.

  2. Sticking to your guns can be a useful negotiating technique. However, if you’re going against someone who does this, insist that the agreement should be based on unbiased standards such as market value and expert opinion. Both sides can work together for a fair solution instead of demanding that one side gives in entirely.

Although these principles can work in other situations, they may not be as effective when the other side has a stronger bargaining position or is richer or better connected. They may also not help if the other party attacks you while you’re trying to negotiate with them. While it’s important to discuss interests, options and standards during negotiations, you should also have a strategy for when those tactics don’t work. In such cases, try changing the game back into a “principled negotiation.”

Using a “Bottom Line”

When people are negotiating, they try to protect themselves from a bad outcome by deciding on the worst possible outcome. This helps them resist pressures and temptations in the moment, but it also comes with a cost. If you already know your bottom line is going to be “No”, then you don’t have any incentive to listen or consider other ideas during negotiations.

Know Your BATNA

A bottom line may protect you from a very bad deal, but it can also prevent you from accepting an agreement that’s in your best interest. A better alternative is to identify your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). This will help you reject bad deals and accept good ones. Your BATNA should be flexible enough to allow for creative solutions. Compare the deal offered with your BATNA to see which one satisfies your interests more.

If you don’t think carefully about your BATNA, you’re not negotiating effectively. You may be too optimistic about other options, and even if your alternative is fixed, without thinking through it thoroughly, you might not appreciate the consequences of activating that alternative (a lawsuit or strike). Reaching an agreement at all costs can also hurt you in negotiations. Having a backup plan in case negotiations break down is essential if you want to negotiate wisely. Your power in negotiations depends on the quality of your BATNA — not on wealth or connections — because relative negotiation power depends upon how attractive the option of “not reaching agreement” is for each party.

Generating Your BATNA

To get a good BATNA, first list your options if no agreement is reached. Then choose the best option and improve it to make it more viable. Finally, select that option as your BATNA. Having a good BATNA makes negotiating easier because you’ll know where you stand and will be able to negotiate with confidence.

Reflect on the Other Side’s BATNA

When negotiating, it’s important to consider the other party’s alternatives. Knowing their BATNA will give you an idea of what they’re willing to negotiate and how far they’ll go. If their BATNA is so good that they won’t need to negotiate on the merits, perhaps you can change their alternative. For example, if a power plant is polluting a local area with noxious gases and its BATNA is simply ignoring protests and continuing business as usual, perhaps filing an injunction would force them into negotiations where you could make your case for cleaner operations. Their BATNA may become less attractive than it was before the injunction was filed against them. When both sides have attractive alternatives in terms of acceptable outcomes from negotiation, then there may not be any reason for either side to reach agreement at all. In such cases, reaching agreement might be better avoided entirely because neither side has anything compelling enough to say or do about it anyway.

Negotiation Jujitsu

The BATNA approach can sometimes fail, and if it does, you may need to resort to a strategy that involves countering the basic moves of positional bargaining. This involves redirecting their attention from your position to the merits of your case. You do this by playing negotiation jujitsu, which is basically when you don’t react to attacks or defend yourself against them. Instead, break the cycle by refusing to react and use their strength against them in order to step aside while using their power against them.

In practice, negotiation jujitsu deals with the three typical attack maneuvers: 1. The forceful assertion of their position. 2. The attack on your ideas 3. The personal attack *

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The forceful assertion of their position – When the other side presents their opinion, do not attack it; treat it as one possible option. Assume that every position is a genuine attempt to address the basic concerns of each side and seek ways to improve them. Ask how the position addresses the problem at hand or how it might be improved to do so. Examine what would happen if their position was accepted, but don’t make this an unrealistic option for you. They may become more willing to accept alternatives when they understand why that’s not realistic for you

  • When you put forward your ideas, other people will criticize them. Don’t defend yourself and don’t try to convince the critics that they’re wrong. Instead, ask them for their advice on how you can improve your idea from their point of view. Then take their advice into consideration when making improvements to the idea.

  • When people attack you personally, it is tempting to defend yourself. Instead, listen and understand what they are saying. Then try to recast their personal attacks as an attack on a problem or issue that needs solving.

Remember two key tools when employing the negotiation jujitsu strategy: use questions instead of statements, and use silence as a weapon. Questions generate answers while statements create resistance. Questions allow the other side to illustrate its points. Queries can lead the other side to confront the problem. Questions educate instead of criticize. Silence creates the perception of a stalemate. If you ask an honest question and receive an insufficient answer, wait for it to be answered before asking another one or making any comments on what was just said; otherwise, they’ll get defensive about their previous response and become less likely to provide more detail in future responses or make new suggestions that might help you reach your goals during negotiations with them later on down the road. When people have doubts about what they just said, silence can become quite uncomfortable. Often, this will cause them to feel compelled to break that silence by answering your question in more detail or coming up with a new suggestion themselves. Ask questions, then pause ; you are doing some of your most effective negotiating when you are not talking.

One-Text Procedure: Call in a Mediator

When all else fails, it’s best to bring in a third party. A mediator can separate the people from the problem and focus on interests and options. They can also suggest some impartial basis for decision-making and reduce the number of decisions needed to reach an agreement. Mediators start by asking not what each side wants, but why they want it. They make it clear that they’re not trying to take away anyone’s position or give up anything either; rather, they’re just investigating whether there might be a way forward – even if this is still undetermined at this point.

Mediators use this information to make a list of needs and interests. Then, they ask each side to criticize the list so that they can make improvements. It’s easier for both sides to criticize than it is for them to compromise on their differences. The mediator uses this criticism as input into creating an agreement that has many faults but is better than what either side had before.

After the first draft, a mediator creates a second one. This process continues until both parties agree on the final draft. The mediation procedure is effective for large negotiations because it simplifies the process of creating options and deciding together on one option.

Full Summary of Getting to Yes

Overall Summary

Getting to Yes, written by the founders of the Harvard Negotiation Project, promotes a strategy called principled negotiation. This method is designed to help people get better outcomes in their negotiations and relationships. The book shows how this strategy can be applied in many different contexts such as work, school, politics, and marriage. In all these fields people negotiate on a daily basis but often end up dissatisfied or alienated from others because they don’t know how to do it well. Traditional positional bargaining encourages people to take extreme positions and view agreements as requiring one-sided concessions; however principled negotiation is designed with an emphasis on effective solutions rather than stubbornly fighting for face saving points.

The first principle of principled negotiation is to separate people from the problem. In positional bargaining, one must choose between winning and losing a relationship or substance in a conflict. Principled negotiators consciously separate relationships and problems by managing misperceptions, emotions, communication and biases. First they should understand what motivates their counterpart, then account for their own emotions related to the situation at hand; finally they should maintain clear communication with each other without any misunderstandings.

The second rule of negotiation is to focus on interests, not positions. When people enter into negotiations they have a position in mind, but their real goal is to satisfy their interests. Even though two sides may be presenting opposing views, there can still be common ground between them if the negotiators are willing to listen and compromise. People should view each other as teammates rather than enemies during negotiations and take everyone else’s concerns seriously.

The authors suggest that people should negotiate to find a solution that is beneficial to both parties. They should brainstorm and come up with many options for mutual gain before beginning the actual negotiation. In these sessions, they shouldn’t criticize each other’s ideas and postpone making decisions until later. By doing this, negotiators will have more choices when it comes to coming up with solutions that are acceptable to everyone involved in the negotiation process.

The fourth rule is to insist on objective criteria. Instead of negotiating over individual interests, people should negotiate using external standards like fairness or scientific merit. For instance, during the Law of the Sea Conference, India and the United States made an agreement about deep-sea mining regulations with a scientific model. Objective procedures can also help make agreements easier to reach; for example, splitting dessert by “one cuts and the other chooses” is much more effective than arguing over who gets how much cake.

The authors then explain that the first step to negotiation is understanding your BATNA, which stands for Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. It shows how much you’d lose if you didn’t reach an agreement and it also determines your power in the negotiation far more than money or influence can. However, this only works if it’s specific and actionable, not just an idea in general.

Next, the authors offer two strategies that principled negotiators can use with people who insist on using the positional bargaining approach. The first is negotiation jujitsu, which means refusing to engage a person’s position and instead framing all discussion in terms of interests. (This can involve using open-ended questions and carefully-timed silences.) The second strategy is the one-text procedure, which involves a third party mediator creating a joint list of everybody’s interests and then developing a plan to fulfill those interests in consultation with all parties involved. As an example of this process, the authors analyze Frank Turnbull’s negotiation with his landlord Mrs. Jones over unfair rent increases she had been charging him for years due to her ignorance about fair market rates for renting apartments in their neighborhood. Turnbull cites objective standards like fair prices and consistently emphasizes that he isn’t attacking Mrs. Jones’ character or accusing her of misbehavior; when she accuses him of extortion after he refuses to back down from his demand for fair pricing based on objective standards, he ignores her accusation rather than getting into personal attacks or explaining himself further—he just gives her another chance to make her case based on principles rather than attacking him personally again. He intentionally asks for some time to think it over, then comes up with a reasonable solution that Mrs. Jones accepts without feeling cheated or misunderstood because Turnbull didn’t get into any more arguments with her about whether what they were doing was morally acceptable.

Finally, the authors discuss dirty tricks that people use to gain an unfair advantage in negotiations. If one side uses these tactics and the other refuses to fight back, then it’s just going to be a bad deal for both sides. The best response is to negotiate about how you’re going to negotiate so that this doesn’t happen again. For instance, if someone agrees with your terms but later tries to push for more concessions from you, point out what they’re doing and don’t make any more concessions until they stick by their original agreement. Similarly, if someone holds a meeting in a freezing-cold room on purpose because it makes them feel powerful or something like that, insist on having the meeting somewhere else instead of letting yourself get pushed around like that without fighting back somehow. Threats and pressure tactics like “good guy/bad guy routine” are best answered by sticking up for principles all along rather than giving into those kinds of games played by some negotiators trying to take advantage of others who aren’t paying attention as closely as they should be while negotiating deals with them.

The authors conclude by emphasizing that Getting to Yes is just organizing information that most people already know intuitively. They argue it’s not about winning or losing, but rather finding the best way for dealing with differences.


Negotiation is a skill that everyone uses and needs to be good at. Negotiation involves multiple parties with different interests who need to communicate in order to reach an agreement. Over time, organizations are becoming less hierarchical, which means more negotiation will happen inside of them. However, people tend to fall into two categories: soft negotiators or hard negotiators. Soft negotiators avoid conflict but give up what they want because of it; hard negotiators care mostly about winning but alienate others in the process and don’t make progress toward their goals either way.

In Getting to Yes, authors Fisher, Ury and Patton present a negotiation strategy that combines the best of hard and soft negotiating. This approach requires identifying shared goals as well as evaluating competing interests based on fair criteria. It can be applied in all kinds of negotiations regardless of the problems or stakes involved.

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Chapter 1

Negotiations usually involve positional bargaining. This means that both sides choose a position to defend and end up at something in the middle, like when a shopkeeper quotes a price and a customer bargains them down. While this approach is clear about each party’s interests, it doesn’t lead to wise agreements or develop better relationships between the two parties involved.

In positional bargaining, people often stick to their positions in order to save face. For example, talks about nuclear inspections between the United States and the Soviet Union broke down because each side refused to change its initial number of inspections. However, they never discussed how the inspections would be conducted.

Negotiation is a way of resolving disputes without going to court. In Iraq, the government wanted to take land from farmers, but that led to a standoff. So they proposed an alternative solution: The farmers could harvest their yearly crop and then share the land with the oil company. This shows why positional bargaining isn’t always ideal; it often prevents parties from getting what they really want. Instead of choosing positions that are average between both sides, we can find solutions that give everyone most of what they want in order to resolve disputes effectively without going through lengthy legal battles or suffering economically as a result of them.

The authors then explain that positional bargaining is inefficient. It takes a long time and people get stuck in their initial positions so they don’t budge, even if it’s clear they should. In addition, the process of deciding what to offer or give up can be difficult and lengthy, as well as exhausting for both parties involved. Eventually, this makes negotiations slow and unlikely to produce wise agreements.

The authors of this book note that debating positions can be damaging to relationships. People often take a position and try to force the other person into giving in or giving up. This anger and bitterness is unnecessary, which ruins relationships.

The authors then explain that positional bargaining doesn’t work in large groups. In the United Nations, hundreds of countries have to cooperate and reach some sort of agreement, which makes positional bargaining ineffective.

The authors state that being nice isn’t the solution to positional bargaining. They present a table of hard and soft negotiation tactics, which contrasts giving in to other parties’ demands with making concessions, offering trust, and prioritizing their needs. The latter approach avoids conflict but makes one sacrifice control over the situation and goals. Hard negotiators take advantage of soft negotiators who use this tactic because they are easily manipulated into giving in to their demands.

The authors note that there is an alternative to the hard-line negotiating strategy. They explain that every negotiation involves two levels: substantive and procedural. The procedural level of a negotiation determines how it’s conducted, including whether it will be done in a soft or hard manner. Negotiators can choose either option, but they can also change the rules of engagement at any time if they want to do so.

The authors of this book suggest that we should view ourselves as a team instead of seeing the other party as an adversary. We should also focus on interests, not positions; invent options for mutual gain before deciding on a solution to our problems; and insist on using objective criteria when making decisions.

Negotiation is a three-stage process that involves analyzing the situation, planning solutions and working through differences to arrive at an agreement. A principled negotiation leads to wise agreements, since it’s more efficient than positional bargaining and preserves amicable relationships.

Chapter 2

Usually, people are more likely to have conflict with others when there is a problem. For example, if the boss gives extra work as a reward for being the best worker and the employee objects to that, then he or she may feel like they’re being punished rather than rewarded. Or if an official yells at someone who points out unfair regulations instead of listening to them, it could cause even more problems in that situation.

The authors note that trust and respect can lead to smooth negotiations, but anger and offense may cause problems. Negotiators should constantly ask themselves if they are taking the people problem seriously enough.

The authors argue that in every negotiation, the parties have two interests: their interest in the substance of a deal and their interest in maintaining a relationship. The storekeeper wants to make money off each sale, but he also wants a regular customer. In many cases, people are more invested in maintaining relationships than they are with any one deal or negotiation.

Negotiations can turn sour and negatively affect the relationship between the people involved. This is because positional bargaining makes all negotiations into conflicts, which means it forces negotiators to sacrifice one or the other.

The authors state that negotiators must understand the relationship between people and substance. They should deal with the “people problem” first, then negotiate on the issues in a detached manner.

Many disagreements are due to misunderstandings. It is important to look at the facts, but not enough to overcome fundamental differences in hopes and fears.

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The authors argue that it’s important to understand the other person’s perspective and expectations. In order to do this, negotiators should try to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

Secondly, people should not assume that the other party has bad intentions. Viewing them in a negative light only reinforces our own beliefs and makes it harder to reach an agreement with them.

First of all, negotiators should focus on the problem at hand. If it’s not their fault, they shouldn’t assume that it is and start blaming the other side for causing the problem. Instead, they should discuss how to solve it together by explicitly speaking about their perceptions of what happened. It’s important to point out concessions that would satisfy both parties without sacrificing any goals because usually people are too focused on winning and don’t think about giving up anything in order to win.

For example, during the Law of the Sea Conference a group of developing countries asked some industrialized nations to share their technical knowledge about deep-sea mining. The developed countries were happy to do so but spent too much time on points of conflict instead of working out a detailed technology transfer plan. This would have provided an incentive for everyone involved with the agreement to make it work.

The best way to change the other side’s perception is by taking action. For example, when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat visited Israel in 1977, four years after a war between the two countries, he forced Israel to start seeing him as a partner rather than an enemy. Negotiators must work together with their counterparts from the other side and actively shape any agreement that is reached. If either party feels like they didn’t have a say in how something was written or if it negatively impacts them, then they’re unlikely to agree with it. Therefore, both parties should be involved throughout the entire negotiation process and give credit where credit is due on both sides so that agreements are more likely to happen.

In negotiation, people also need to save face. It is the concept of needing to be consistent with one’s principles and past actions in order to maintain a good reputation. If you are a judge, for example, it is important that you stay consistent; otherwise your credibility will suffer. Similarly, if someone rejects an offer because it violates his or her values, he or she may agree if the same proposal seems like a better fit for those values.

The authors note that many negotiations are completely derailed by strong emotions. Negotiators must first identify their own emotions and also try to recognize what the other side is feeling. Then, they should ask where those emotions come from—often they’re unrelated to the negotiation itself, such as when longstanding animosity between Israelis and Palestinians makes every negotiation a bitter fight.

Negotiation is a complex process that involves several factors. Negotiators should consider the core concerns of their constituents in order to understand what they’re really looking for, and how best to satisfy those needs. Negotiations are also influenced by identity, which can be threatened if negotiations go poorly.

It’s also helpful to let the other side vent their feelings. This helps them release negative emotions and return to a calmer state of mind. It also lets them signal their commitment to their constituents, which is important in negotiations. Some people even make it a rule that only one person can get angry at a time on the management team.

Finally, it is no secret that other small gestures of sympathy can help to calm down conflicts and negotiate better without compromising on the outcomes. Communication lies at the heart of all negotiation, but it’s incredibly hard to do well. Negotiators run into three main kinds of communication problems: they give up on truly communicating with each other for the sake of reaching an agreement; they don’t listen properly because they are focused on deciding what to say next; and they misinterpret each other due to language barriers or cultural differences.

There was a time when there was a misunderstanding between two cultures. A man who wanted to be the middleman for negotiations misunderstood what words meant in another language, and his actions made things worse.

The first, most important thing to do when trying to improve communication is to actively listen. If you are able to confirm that the other party understands your point of view, then they will be more likely to trust you and negotiate with you in good faith. Good listeners also clarify any uncertainties that the other side has about your idea or position before presenting their own.

Great communicators also speak directly to the other party during a negotiation. Negotiations should not be like debates or trials but more like two judges deciding a case together—blame and personal attacks are never useful. Moreover, the fewer people present, the easier agreement usually becomes. Effective negotiators use “I” statements to speak about their experiences rather than directing accusations at their opponents. Finally, negotiators shouldn’t over-disclose which can create problems (as in revealing your bottom line).

The authors argue that prevention is better than a cure. The best way to avoid personal conflicts during negotiation is to build a strong friendship before the negotiation begins. You can do this by chatting with your negotiating partner for a few minutes before or after you negotiate, and it’ll be easier if both parties treat each other as partners rather than adversaries.

There are many ways to turn a conflict into a partnership. One way is to explicitly propose that, and the other is for both parties to just start acting like partners. It also helps if negotiators sit side by side instead of facing one another.

The authors of this chapter emphasize that the strategies described in the earlier chapters are ongoing tasks.

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Chapter 3

Authors begin with a parable about two men in a library fighting about the window. One man wants it open for fresh air, but the other does not want to feel a draft. So, he opens up another window elsewhere. The authors then explain that many negotiations fail because people focus on positions rather than interests. The librarian’s solution works because she cares about their needs and concerns—the core issue of any dispute—which is what actually matters when resolving conflict.

A good example of why interests are more important than positions is the Camp David Accords. Both sides had conflicting positions, but their interests were actually compatible: Israel wanted to retain some of the territory, and Egypt wanted sovereignty back over its own land. Therefore, they agreed that Israel would return it to Egypt as long as it remained a demilitarized zone.

Ideas are the currency of today’s world. Some people are particularly good at communicating their ideas, and they tend to be more influential than others. It would help if we could dissect these speakers’ techniques and apply them in our own presentations. We can do that by analyzing TED (Technology, Education, Design) presentations as well as interviewing some of the most popular presenters. The author also provides his insights from working with leaders of business organizations.

The authors ask, “How do you identify interests?” People are often explicit about their positions but it’s harder to discern what they really want. They suggest that one should first find out why the other party is taking whatever position they have chosen and why they haven’t already agreed with your requests. The authors look at how hostage-takers in Iran stayed in power as long as possible.

Negotiators should consider the consequences of each decision and weigh those against each other. For example, they should think about how their actions will influence others and if it’s important to maintain certain principles or make decisions that have long-term effects on future negotiations.

Negotiators usually have multiple interests, and they often forget that the other side can be made up of different groups with competing interests. Negotiations are also two-sided exchanges in which each side has agreed-upon, definite interests.

The authors note that people’s interests are often based on their basic needs. For example, when Mexico was planning to sell natural gas to the United States, it was important for them to be respected and get a fair price rather than just sell as much as possible. In such situations, it is helpful to explicitly write out the list of each side’s interests.

To actually achieve a successful negotiation, you need to identify what the other person wants and clearly communicate it. You should also include specific details about their interests because that allows you to paint a more vivid picture of the problem. By showing that you understand them, they will take your interests seriously too. Negotiators should talk about problems before proposing solutions—rather than telling people what to do and then explaining why, they should explain their interest at stake before proposing how to resolve it.

People often argue just to win an argument, not to find a solution. When asked why they’re arguing, people say that the reason is because of something in their past—a cause instead of a purpose. You should argue for the sake of achieving something you want in the future—a purpose. The question “why?” can be answered with either causes or purposes; however, focusing on what you want to achieve will always help you satisfy your interests more than focusing on things from your past will.

Negotiators should be concrete but flexible. They should always have a plan, but they shouldn’t be too attached to it. Instead of just being inflexible, negotiators should think about multiple plans that will fulfill their interests and keep those plans flexible—being receptive to new ideas is better than being stuck in one position.

Negotiators are better off offering illustrative proposals rather than making firm demands because doing so allows for more flexibility and can lead to a better outcome for all parties involved.

In conclusion, people should negotiate their interests but avoid attacking the other party. They can accomplish this by being open to different ideas and solutions while advocating for what they want. In fact, it’s best to support the other side in order to resolve any conflicts that arise during negotiations. People should be firm about what they want but flexible when it comes to finding a solution or compromise that works for both sides.

Chapter 4

Negotiations often involve people with opposing interests. This is because they are either looking for the cheapest price or trying to get an all-or-nothing deal. However, creative thinking can help them come up with solutions that work for both parties and avoid a stalemate.

The authors offer a few reasons why people don’t consider creative solutions that aren’t on the straight line between their position and yours. The first reason is “premature judgment.” People are used to thinking in only one way, so they let critical voices talk them out of being creative. Also, if the other party interprets your brainstorming as a concrete proposal, it can be dangerous to come up with new ideas.

There are four barriers to creative solutions. The first is searching for a single answer, or narrowing down the range of possible solutions too early in the process. Another problem is assuming that there’s only so much pie to go around, when actually both parties can benefit from a mutually beneficial solution. A third barrier is thinking that solving your own problems has nothing to do with satisfying other people’s interests as well. And finally, you have to be willing to expand your idea of what constitutes a good solution and not get stuck on one particular approach or option right away.

The authors suggest that we separate inventing from deciding. Inventing is about coming up with ideas, while deciding is about evaluating those ideas. By setting aside dedicated time and space for brainstorming, you can produce new ideas without being evaluated yet. This will encourage people to come up with bolder and more innovative options, but it also protects them from embarrassment if the idea fails to work out in practice.

The authors explain how brainstorming sessions should be run. Brainstorming is a group activity where people can share and develop ideas. It’s best to have small groups (five to eight people) that work together informally, sitting side-by-side instead of in rows or at desks. The facilitator should stop criticism during the session and record everyone’s ideas so they’re visible for all participants to see. After the brainstorming session, there are several steps that need to be taken: open up limited constructive criticism from other members, select the best few ideas, improve those ideas by taking another shot at them before planning a subsequent meeting with only certain options presented as possible solutions for negotiation purposes.

The authors note that both parties should brainstorm together. This can be risky, but it often produces excellent solutions and helps improve relationships between the two parties. However, during this process, negotiators should emphasize that they’re not making proposals; rather they are asking questions and trying to understand each other’s positions. An example of a successful negotiation is given by the authors in which a labor union negotiates with corporate managers to get better benefits for workers. They point out that most of the discussion consists of open-ended questions rather than definite statements or assertions from either party.

The authors then suggest that people should brainstorm different ideas, rather than searching for the best idea. They emphasize that brainstorming is not necessarily about finding the best answer—it’s about getting a variety of ideas together so you have more options to choose from later on. The Circle Chart shows how thinking can be organized into four steps: identify the problem, analyze it, determine what solving it will require and come up with realistic solutions and plans to pursue them.

The circle chart is useful because it helps people develop related ideas to the original proposal. For example, a plan for creating common history books led to several other plans that had to do with changing the way history was taught, or even an exchange program for teachers. Some of these proposals came into fruition as well.

The authors also suggest that problem-solvers imagine how experts in different fields would approach the same issue. Before negotiations, it can help to be ready with weaker options of one’s plans, in case all parties cannot agree on a final outcome. The negotiation process could start off by clearly identifying areas where there is no common ground between all parties involved and breaking down large goals into smaller ones before moving forward one step at a time.

The authors suggest that in order to deal with zero-sum situations, you should look for mutual gain. This can be useful when it seems like one person is going to win and the other will lose. In reality, there are almost always ways that both parties can benefit from a situation. The key to finding these solutions is to figure out what both parties want and how they can help each other get those things.

For example, a mayor may want to raise taxes on oil companies. The business owner wants to lower them because he knows that it would be bad for his company’s profits. However, raising the tax rate could help the city get revenue from businesses and therefore improve their economy. Thus, both parties’ interests are tied into each other’s success and failure.

All negotiations involve some shared interests, such as the interest in future cooperation. However, negotiators need to figure out what those shared interests are and talk about them before they can act on them.

It is possible to compromise between differing interests. One way to do this is by creating a solution that satisfies both parties’ needs. This can be done in many different ways, such as if one party wants control over the form of a message and the other wants control over its substance. Another example would be when one party believes something will happen soon, while another believes it will happen later or not at all. Compromising on these issues can lead to solutions that satisfy everyone’s needs equally without worsening anyone’s situation too much.

The authors’ final tip for making decisions is to make it easy. It helps to think about the other negotiator as an individual who has many factors they have to consider, like their constituents and their professional reputation.

To make agreements easier to accept, negotiators should do a better job at implementing solutions that both sides can agree on. This focuses on making the offer and how easy it will be for them to implement it, rather than threatening them with what might happen if they don’t comply. It is better to be realistic about their proposal and imagine what kind of criticism they’ll get if they accept your proposal just as-is. They should try to compromise more realistically by thinking through other options you may have in mind as well. The ideal agreement incorporates great ideas from both parties which makes them unarguably yesable because there’s nothing either side disagrees with in terms of its content. That way, there are no compromises and neither side comes away unhappy or resentful about the deal made.

Chapter 5

The authors admit that negotiations are always about competing interests, so it’s usually impossible to come up with a win-win solution. They explain that most people approach negotiations by stating what they want and don’t want, but the authors have already explained why this is unwise. Instead of doing positional bargaining, you should base your negotiation on objective criteria.

The authors point out that nobody would hire a contractor to build their house if they knew the foundations were weak, because there are objective standards that need to be followed for a house to be safe. Similarly, business negotiations should be based on objective figures such as fairness, efficiency or scientific merit. This will help them reach wise agreements and maintain good relationships with each other. It also saves time compared to positional bargaining.

For example, during the Law of the Sea Conference, India and United States each wanted to do things differently but later agreed after looking at an economic model created by Boston University.

The authors suggest that sometimes there are multiple ways to evaluate things. For example, there are several methods for determining the value of a car. People can use scientific assessments, professional norms, principles of equality or adherence to precedent and tradition in order to make an agreement wise. It’s helpful to ask yourself whether you would agree with the terms if they were reversed—for instance, many nations insist on self-determination but deny it to others.

Negotiators should settle on fair criteria and procedures in addition to their being fair. They can determine this by first proposing two mining sites, with the United Nations-owned company taking whichever it thinks is best. Another thing they could do is decide who will be involved before deciding how things will work out. For instance, parents could establish visitation rights before choosing between having custody of their children or not. Some other easy solutions include “taking turns,” “drawing lots,” and “letting someone else decide.”

The authors suggest three main points to follow when negotiating. First, people should think of negotiations as a joint search for objective criteria. They should try to understand the other party’s position and agree on principles before applying them in order to reach a fair agreement.

There are two strategies for using objective criteria in negotiations. The first is to be open-minded about the proposed standards from the opposition, and let them choose which ones they want. It’s dangerous to base a negotiation on principles because different sides might see their difference in position as reflecting a deeper difference in principles, then give up on resolving it. Instead of that, both sides should examine the arguments for and against different objective standards.

The third rule of using objective criteria in negotiations is to never give in to pressure, but be open to giving up on one issue for another that you may want more. However, principled negotiators will only care about the reasons and principles behind a position. By insisting upon objective criteria, a negotiator can force the other side into stating their position in terms of objective merits.

The best negotiators should avoid accepting arbitrary standards. They should also be wary of making an unfair deal, even if it’s better than no deal at all. If the other side won’t budge, and a bad agreement is better than none at all, then you have to accept that agreement. While principled negotiation is always the best strategy in any situation, there are some situations where this isn’t true.

The authors end the chapter with an example of a man whose car was destroyed in a crash. The insurance company initially refuses to explain how it decides on the amount of compensation, but he continues to ask questions about why they’re offering him this much money for his damaged car. He compares their offer to other used cars that have similar specifications and technology as his own damaged one, and gets more money from the insurance company than they initially offered.

Chapter 6

The authors state that when the other party has more power, it is important to be able to refuse unwise resolutions and use the power you do have as effectively as possible.

The authors say that people often settle for unfair agreements, even though they know it’s not a good idea. To avoid this kind of bad decision-making, you should have a bottom line (a minimum or maximum price).

Money is obviously important, but it can also be dangerous. For example, people who focus on money often stop listening to the other side once they’ve reached their ‘bottom line’ or goal. Additionally, focusing on money can cloud one’s judgment and lead them to reject good offers in favor of unrealistic ones.

The best alternative to negotiating a deal is planning what you’ll do if negotiations fail. For example, if a family doesn’t get the best offer for their house, they should determine their “Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement,” or BATNA for short.

Negotiators should identify a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) because it can help them determine if an offer is truly worthwhile. However, the best alternative isn’t necessarily better than what they’re currently being offered; rather, it’s something that will still work even if they don’t reach an agreement. If negotiators fail to identify their BATNA, they’ll make decisions without understanding “the consequences of not reaching agreement.”

In some cases, people wrongly think that reaching an agreement is always better than the alternatives. But they can only choose one of those alternatives, so it’s important to compare the agreement to the best alternative. More often, people are desperate for agreements because they don’t have any good alternatives in mind. They should examine their options before negotiating with someone else.

The authors suggest that people come up with a “tripwire,” which is essentially an idea of an imperfect agreement, but it’s still better than their BATNA. People know to seriously consider any offer that seems reasonable, but doesn’t exceed the tripwire point.

The authors give advice on how to make the most of your assets. The first thing they say is that people’s greatest asset is not their money or power, but rather it is their BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). For example, if you’re negotiating with someone who has more money than you do, then you should consider what they would do if there was no deal. If the other person can’t get anything else done and still be successful without making an agreement with you, then he or she doesn’t have much negotiating power. Similarly, companies often underestimate cities’ bargaining power because cities always have another option – expanding city limits to include a company which will force them to pay property taxes.

The best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) is useless if you don’t plan it out. That means coming up with as many alternatives as possible, then building on the most promising ones and identifying the single best one. It’s also important to know what your BATNA is so that you can walk away from a deal if necessary.

If you’re negotiating, it’s important to know what the other side is willing to do. If they have a good BATNA (Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement), then it might be better not to negotiate at all.

The authors’ argument is that when negotiating with a more powerful opponent, people should make their principles and merits the basis of the negotiation. People can do this by developing an attractive BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). By doing so, they lower the cost of walking away from unequal negotiations.

Chapter 7

Sometimes people insist on getting the best deal possible, refuse to meet in the middle or brainstorm solutions and resort to personal attacks instead of debating ideas. The authors suggest three ways of responding: first, you can try using strategies they have outlined so far in the book; second, you can use a negotiation jujitsu strategy; and thirdly, you can involve a third party by using one-text mediation.

The authors then explain how to use negotiation jujitsu. People should not defend a position or react to the other side’s attacks. Instead, they should deflect the attack and redirect it toward principled negotiation.

In positional bargaining, the other party usually defends their position and attacks yours. Negotiation jujitsu calls for analyzing these positions as if they were any other option in a negotiation. You should figure out how your opponent’s proposal serves your interests and determine what principles it is based on, then help them give up on those positions too.

By asking what would happen if the proposal were accepted, negotiators can show that it is not reasonable to accept the other side’s ideas. For instance, when an American lawyer asked President Nasser of Egypt how Israel Prime Minister Meir would feel about unilateral withdrawal from Egyptian territory in 1970, he realized that this was a ridiculous idea.

Secondly, when people attack you in a negotiation, it’s best to encourage criticism and figure out their principles. Ask them why they’re attacking you or your offer, then analyze the reason behind that criticism so you can understand what they want. It helps if you imagine yourself in their position because this will show that both sides have legitimate interests at heart.

When someone attacks you personally, it’s best to let them finish and then discuss the problem at hand. You can use their attack as an opportunity to get them talking about the real issue. There are two more key techniques for making this happen: asking questions rather than making direct statements, and using silence to force people into thinking through what they’re saying.

The authors give an example of a couple who can’t agree on what they want in a house. They need to call in someone impartial, but not just anyone will do.

Many mediators try to reconcile the two sides’ opposing views by making compromises. However, in a one-text procedure, both parties make a list of their interests and preferences about an issue (for example, they might want specific features for their house). Then the mediator takes this information and makes a plan that is agreeable to both parties. The main parties must then approve of the plan or else it will not be adopted.

Sometimes, people can call in a third person to mediate their dispute. However, sometimes there is someone who is able to be the mediator because they have no particular stake in the outcome of the negotiation. For instance, this was why the United States mediated peace talks between Israel and Egypt at Camp David. Large organizations like the United Nations use this method for making most of their decisions as well – such as those made during international conferences on maritime law.

The authors use a negotiation to show how being principled can be effective. A man named Frank Turnbull is having problems with his landlord, who has been overcharging him for rent every month. He uses negotiation jujitsu and eventually gets the belligerent Mrs. Jones to apologize and reimburse him for the illegal rent payments.

“I may be wrong, but I’ve learned that my apartment is legally rent-controlled. Can you explain how it works?” Turnbull asks Mrs. Jones before giving her a chance to prove him wrong or right. This shows he’s open for discussion and willing to be persuaded based on evidence, which can prevent conflict and protect him in case the information turns out to be incorrect.

Next, Turnbull personally thanks Mrs. Jones for renting the apartment to him and emphasizes that he is not attacking her character. He suggests that he cares about preserving an ongoing relationship with her. Turnbull explains that he is asking about the rent because he cares about the principle of fair pricing and makes it clear that his opinion can change if provided with new information.

Mrs. Jones accuses Turnbull of trying to extort her, but he responds by saying that he obviously could do that—or start an extended court battle—but he is choosing to put principles first. Accordingly, he says that he wants to “handle this problem fairly on the basis of some independent standard.” Although Mrs. Jones is angry at Turnbull for not caring about anything except fairness, she controls herself and points out why it’s so important for him to care about other people’s feelings as well as fairness: “If you don’t care about how I feel in this situation, then we can’t have a relationship based on trust and respect.” But then she turns the conversation back toward principles by asking what kind of standards they should use in their negotiation process.

Next, Mrs. Jones accuses Turnbull of not trusting her but he insists that trust is irrelevant to the matter at hand. The only thing that matters is if they paid too much for the property or not. He refuses to get sidetracked by personal attacks and attempts to return focus back on the principle issue, which was whether or not they overpaid for their land.

Instead of just stating that he thought Mrs. Jones was overpaying, Turnbull asked her if he had the facts right. By using questions, they were able to confirm their suspicions and avoid sounding aggressive.

Turnbull then asked Mrs. Jones why she charged him $1,200 a month for rent (instead of the legal $968). She said it was because of repairs to her apartment and that it would have been too much work to get the Rent Control Board to approve an increase herself. Turnbull acknowledged what she said and then rephrased her justification before asking if he had missed anything or misunderstood her reasoning. This created a common base of facts between them so they could negotiate together instead of against each other.

Turnbull tells Mrs. Jones that he needs to consult with his roommate and will get back to her later. To make good decisions, effective negotiators have to take time and space for thought by leaving the conversation and postponing an agreement.

When they continue their conversation, Turnbull tells Mrs. Jones that he talked to the Rent Control Examiner and said it would cost $30,000 in improvements for an increase of $268 in rent. However, she didn’t do this much work on the apartment and never fixed several problems with it. He starts by stating his principle about what justifies a rent increase so that he can show why his perspective is based on relevant objective criteria.

Turnbull suggests that one solution to the problem might be for Mrs. Jones to pay him back for his troubles. He presents this as a possible option, not necessarily his position on the matter. He explains that he would be willing to move out if she agrees with this option, but he can always take legal action against her and stay in the apartment rent-free until it is resolved. This idea comes from the Rent Control Board, so Turnbull emphasizes that it’s not something he came up with himself. In reality, taking legal action is probably just less trouble than moving out would be for him because of all of the hassle involved in suing someone else; however, mentioning that could make things worse rather than better at this point in time because it might come across as overly aggressive or adversarial.

After Mrs. Jones agrees to pay Turnbull back, he promises to move out whenever is best for her. He wants to satisfy his interests and make sure that she’s also satisfied as well. This way, they both save face and their relationship stays amicable. The authors conclude that this shows how it is usually possible to turn positional bargaining into principled negotiation with the right strategies.

Chapter 8

The authors ask what negotiators should do when the other side tries to take advantage of them. Most people simply accept deceptive or unfair behavior as too costly to fix, while others fight fire with fire by using the same nefarious tactics as their opponents. However, neither approach works because they are both wrong; dirty tricks are wrong precisely because they cannot be reciprocal. The best response is “principled negotiation about the negotiating process.”

The authors suggest that you first recognize the other party’s dirty tactics. Then, you have to point it out to them explicitly and show them that their tactic is not working. Finally, they say negotiating about procedure itself can be very effective in getting what you want from your negotiation partner.

The rules of negotiating to produce a good deal are the same as the four basic principles of negotiation. The people involved should separate themselves from their positions and focus on interests instead. They should create new options that could bring about mutual benefits, such as by pointing out how negotiations would collapse if everyone used dirty tactics. And they can settle procedural questions based on objective principles, like by walking out when they feel it is necessary in extreme situations.

The authors then discuss how to deal with tricky tactics in negotiation. They mention three types of tricks: deception, which includes outright lying and should be prevented by being too trusting; the ”salami tactic,” where negotiators will break down an agreement into several parts so they can take advantage of you over time; and ”creating false urgency,” where a negotiator creates a sense of urgency to get you to act before you’re ready.

Sometimes, people will negotiate a deal and then say they don’t have the authority to make that deal. Their boss shows up later and wants more concessions beyond what was agreed upon in the first place. There is nothing wrong with asking someone how much authority they have before negotiating begins. If you are negotiating and your counterpart says he doesn’t have the authority to make a deal but continues to negotiate, you can continue proposing changes as well.

Some people make agreements they don’t intend to follow. One way to avoid this problem is to have the other party agree in advance that they will hold something as collateral if the person who makes the agreement doesn’t follow through with it. This can be done by having them give up a possession or promising not to do something (like having children). Another psychological trick is making an environment uncomfortable for your opponent, like playing loud music or putting someone in a room where there are too many distractions, so they’ll feel pressure and want you to leave quickly. If you know ahead of time that these tricks might be used against you, then try asking for different conditions—a more comfortable location, perhaps—so that neither side has an advantage over the other.

Some dishonest negotiators also tend to make personal comments, show off their authority and send subtle cues in order to intimidate the other side. However, you can stop these tactics by pointing them out.

Another technique is the famous “good-guy/bad-guy routine.” This happens in police interrogations and other negotiations where two people on the same side are arguing. They pretend to be at odds with each other, even when they agree, so that they can get a better deal for themselves. The solution is to always insist on principles.

Threats are ineffective in a negotiation. They make the other side close ranks and destroy relationships, making it harder to come to an agreement. Instead of threatening them with negative consequences, negotiators should explain their actions as ways of protecting themselves from those same consequences.

There are many ways to respond to threats, and each of them have their own merits. Some can be ignored while others should be stopped at the source (such as recording incoming phone calls). In general, it’s best to stick with principles rather than responding directly to a threat. However, if an opposing party does carry out its threats, you must be prepared for that eventuality.

Another type of dirty trick is to refuse to negotiate. For example, the Iranian government refused to negotiate with the United States during the hostage crisis in 1979. This refusal was a way for them to try and pressure America into making concessions.

When a negotiation is going badly, you should ask why the other side isn’t willing to negotiate and then find ways for them to do so without sacrificing their interests. For example, if they aren’t willing to negotiate because it would make them look weak in front of their constituents, you can suggest negotiating secretly. You can also point out that everyone else will play dirty if they don’t reach an agreement.

Negotiators sometime use a strategy of making exaggerated demands to create negotiating room. This is not effective because it only works if the other side is planning on splitting the difference through positional bargaining. Second, this tactic makes others question your credibility. If you make an offer like this, they ask you to justify it with principles.

Some negotiators raise their demands as the negotiation continues. It can help to stop and debate the new demand on principles rather than hastily agreeing to it.

Other negotiators use lock-in tactics like publicly announcing that they will accept only some particular outcome. This is dangerous and counterproductive. It can be defeated by refusing to take it seriously, but also making it clear that the other negotiator will not get away with such a tactic when he or she comes back to the table.

When two people are negotiating together, sometimes one of them will say that they can’t agree to a certain deal because their partner is too tough. This is easy to spot and you should get the agreement in writing before showing it to your partner.

Sometimes, people use time to their advantage. For example, during a labor dispute with workers threatening to go on strike, the company can try and put pressure on them by saying they have less time than expected. However, this isn’t always a good idea because once the strike happens it is better for management to wait until the strikers lose momentum before negotiating again. People can also give incentives not to delay by looking for other buyers or talking with another company.

When it comes to negotiating, fixed offers are not a problem. However, some people try to trick others into thinking that they’ve made their final offer when in fact they’re just trying to make them feel like they don’t have any other options. It’s important for both sides to be aware of the consequences of failing to reach an agreement and how those outcomes could affect the relationship between the two parties involved.

The authors conclude that people should not be a victim of bad faith negotiation. It is hard to draw the line between honest and dishonest negotiations, but it depends on personal values. Negotiators should think about whether both sides are trying to come up with a wise agreement; if one side uses stubbornness and deception, they shouldn’t let them do it.

In Conclusion

The authors end the book with some short points. First, they point out that readers probably already knew most of the information in this book before reading it. The main goal is to help people understand principles that are part of their common sense and apply them more consciously.

In addition, the authors state that reading about negotiation principles is not enough: to really learn them, you must practice.

The authors also state that “winning” a negotiation is not necessarily about getting the most for oneself; rather, it’s about creating an agreement that works for both parties. This can be done through principled negotiation, which allows people to get what they want without sacrificing their relationships with others.

Getting to Yes Book Summary, by Roger Fisher, William Ury

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