Getting to Yes

Getting to Yes - Mind Map

In this post, I present a mind map with the summary of the book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton. (To skip the rest of the post and go directly to the online mind map, click here.)

First Things First

Like it or not, you are a negotiator.

We tend to have a mental image of negotiation as being something restricted to executives in large corporations or politicians arranging complex deals. But negotiation is a skill that everybody uses every day; not only when buying a car or asking for a raise, but in a myriad of trivial situations such as when agreeing with somebody on which restaurant to go or which movie to watch.

Learning to better negotiate is more useful than you would probably think.

The Negotiation Dilemma

I was always averse to the whole idea of negotiation (just like I was to business networking). I always saw it as a contest of wills, where one side tries to win by subduing the other — either by exerting power or by using manipulative techniques. No wonder I tried to avoid it as much as I could.

This mindset makes many of us face a dilemma: without knowing any better, we end up having to choose between the only two forms of negotiation we know: soft or hard.

From the book:

[…] The soft negotiator wants to avoid personal conflict and so makes concessions readily in order to reach agreement. He wants an amicable resolution; yet he often ends up exploited and feeling bitter.

The hard negotiator sees any situation as a contest of wills in which the side that takes the more extreme positions and holds out longer fares better. He wants to win; yet he often ends up producing an equally hard response which exhausts him and his resources and harms his relationship with the other side. (p. xvii)

Enter Principled Negotiation

The solution to this dilemma is to avoid the hard and soft positioning altogether by using a third alternative called Principled Negotiation. This method, which is described in detail in the book, is based on four principles:

  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

To have a quick overview on how these four principles apply in practice, compare the attitudes involved from the point of view of soft, hard and ‘principled’ negotiators:

Negotiation Strategies
Participants are friends.Participants are adversaries.Participants are problem-solvers.
The goal is agreement.The goal is victory.The goal is a wise outcome reached efficiently and amicably.
Make concessions to cultivate the relationship.Demand concessions as a condition of the relationship.Separate the people from the problem.
Be soft on the people and the problem.Be hard on the problem and the people.Be soft on the people, hard on the problem.
Trust others.Distrust others.Proceed independent of trust.
Change your positions easily.Dig in to your position.Focus on interests, not positions.
Make offers.Make threats.Explore interests.
Disclose your bottom-line.Mislead as to your bottom-line.Avoid having a bottom-line.
Accept one-sided losses to reach agreement.Demand one-sided gains as the price of agreement.Invent options for mutual gain.
Search for the single answer: the one they will accept.Search for the single answer: the one you will accept.Develop multiple options to choose from; decide later.
Insist on agreement.Insist on your position.Insist on using objective criteria.
Try to avoid a contest of will.Try to win a contest of will.Try to reach a result based on standards independent of will.
Yield to pressure.Apply pressure.Reason and be open to reason; yield to principle, not pressure.

What If the Other Side Doesn’t Collaborate?

“All nice in theory”, you might say, “but what if the other part I’m negotiating with doesn’t give a damn about this ‘principled negotiation’ thing?”

That’s exactly what I thought when reading the book for the first time; and exactly what the book promptly dealt with (don’t you love when authors read your mind?). The questions “What if they’re more powerful?”, “What if they won’t play nice” and “What if they use dirty tricks?” each get their own chapter with specific techniques you can use to tame the hard bargainer.

Full Book Summary

Find below the links to the mind map with the full contents of the book.

As usual, this summary was created so I could quickly recall the book as well as pass the knowledge along to others. I loved this book and hope you enjoy it too!

Getting to Yes Book

Get the mind map for Getting to Yes:

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