Title: Getting to Yes Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Title: Getting to Yes Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Title: “Getting to Yes" Negotiating Agreement without giving in

Authors: Robert Fisher, and William Ury

Editor: Bruce Patton

Publisher: Penguin Books(200 pages)

Summary Done by: Debra Kalabza-Balsamo

Introduction (copied from the back cover of book): “Getting to Yes,” offers aconcise, step by step, proven strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. The book is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation project, a group that deals continually with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution from domestic to business to international.

Background Information:

The author’s purpose of this book is to teach the reader how to negotiate in a win/win process by;

1. Separating the people from the problem

2. Focusing on interests, not positions

3. Working together to create options that will satisfy both parties

4. Negotiating successfully with people who are more powerful, refuse to play by the rules, or resort to “dirty tricks.”

The author stresses the importance of building relationships with the people that you are negotiating with prior to the negotiating process starting.

This book relates to additional authors such as Peter Senge (The 5th Discipline), Anthony S. Bryk and Barbara Schneider (Trust in Schools –A Core Resource for Improvement). These authors stress the building of relational trust in an organization promote systemic change.

Summary: (quotes and paraphrasing of key phrases)

Chapter I. The Problem-

1. Don't bargain Over Positions

Any Method of negotiation may be fairly judged by three criteria:

A) It should produce a wise agreement if an agreement is possible. It should be efficient.

B) It should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties.

As more attention is paid to positions, less attention is devoted to meeting the underlying concerns of the parties. Agreement becomes less likely. (p 4 & 5)


In a soft negotiating game the standard moves are to make offers and concessions, to trust the other side, to be friendly, and to yield as necessary to avoid confrontation.

Soft negotiating emphasizes the importance of building and maintaining a relationship. As each party competes to be more generous, an agreement becomes highly likely. But it may not be a wise one.

Pursuing a soft and friendly form of positional bargaining makes you vulnerable to someone who plays a hard game of positional bargaining.


If you do not like the choice between hard and soft positional bargaining, you can change the game.(p9)


PEOPLE: Separate the people from the problem.

INTERESTS: Focus on interests, not positions.

OPTIONS: Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding on what to do.

CRITERIA: Insist the result be based on objective standard.

The principled negotiation method of focusing on basic interests, mutually satisfying options, and fair standards typically results in a wise agreement.

The method permits you to reach a gradual consensus on a joint decision efficiently without all the transactional costs of digging in to positions only to have yourself dig yourself out of them.

Separating the people from the problem allows you to deal directly and emphatically with the other negotiator as a human being, thus making it possible for an amicable agreement. (p14)


1) People

2) Interests

3) Options

4) Criteria

Positional Bargaining puts relationships and substance in conflict by trading off one for the other. (p21)

Deal directly with the people not the problem. Don't try to solve them with substantive concessions.

To deal with psychological problems, use psychological techniques.

To deal with inaccurate perceptions, look for ways to educate because their thinking is the problem. Put yourself in there shoes to understand their thinking. This is one of the most important skills to have as a negotiator. It is necessary to withhold judgment for a while as you "try on" their views. (p22 & 23)

Where misunderstandings exist, you can work towards improving communication. (p21)

To find your way through people problems, think of three things:

1. Perception

2. Emotion

3. Communication

Don't deduce their intentions from your fears. People assume what they fear is what the other side is going to do. (p25)

Don't blame the other side for your problem. Discuss each other's perceptions. (p25 & 26) Send a message different from what they will expect. (p27)

Give the other side a stack in the outcome by making sure they participate in the process. This will help with them approving the agreement. (p27)

Face-saving; make sure it is consistent with their values. Do not under estimate its importance.


Emotions may quickly bring negotiations to an impasse or end the talking.

1. Understand and recognize your emotions and theirs. This will make the negotiations less reactive and more "proactive" (p30)

2. Allow the other side to let off steam while you listen quietly without reacting to their attacks. (p31)


Without communication there is no negotiation. There are three big problems;

1. Negotiators may not understand each other even though they are talking with each other.

2. They may not be hearing you as you speak because they are thinking about what they are going to say next.

3. Misunderstanding what one says and the other side may misinterpret. (p33)

Listen actively and acknowledge what is being said. i.e.: Did I understand correctly that you are saying that... This will help them to believe that you understand them and heard them. (p34) Understanding is not agreeing. It just means that you have heard what they said. (p35)

Before making a significant statement, know what you want to communicate or find out, and know what purpose this information will serve. (p36)


Handle people's problems before they become people problems. (p36)

Building a working relationship with the other side really works. The faster that you can turn a stranger into someone your know, the easier negotiations will be. Try to develop a relationship before the negotiations begin. Find out ways to meet informally or talk before and after the meetings. (p37)

Face the problem and not the people.

It helps to sit on the same time of the table with the contract or problem in front of you both. This will give a feeling of working together to find a solution. (p38)

Separating the people from the problem is not something you can do once and forget about it; you must keep working on it. (p39)

Chapter III. Focus on interests, not positions

1. Interests define the problem.

2. Interests motivate people; they are the silent movers behind the hub of positions. (p 41)

Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests, as well as conflicting ones. We assume that because the other side’s position is opposite ours, their interests must also be opposite. (p42)

How do you identify interests? (p44)

1. Ask why? Examine each position that they take and ask why?

2. Ask why not? Think about their choice.

3. What is the impact on my interest?

4. What is the impact on the group's interests?

Realize that each side has multiple interests. (p47)

Think of negotiating as a two-person, two sided affair. This can be illuminating, but should not blind you to the usual presence of other persons, other sides, and other influences. (p48)

The most powerful interests are basic human needs. If you can take care of the basic needs, you increase the chance of reaching an agreement and both sides keeping to it. (p48)

Basic needs are:

1. Security

2. Economic wellbeing

3. A sense of belonging

4. Recognition

5. Control over one's life

What is true for individuals is true for groups and nations.

Negotiations will not make much progress if one side feels that fulfillment of their basic human needs are being threatened by another. (p49)

Make a list as interests occur to you.

The purpose of negotiating is to serve your interests.

How do you discuss interests constructively without getting locked into rigid positions? Explain to the other side what those interests are. Make your interests come alive. Show the other side how important and legitimate your interests are. Be specific. Concrete details make your description credible. (p50)

Appreciate and acknowledge the other sides interests as part of the problem. People will listen better if you understand them. This makes you look intelligent, sympathetic and whose opinions should be listened to. (p51)

Put your problem before your answer. If you want someone to listen and understand your reasoning, give your interests and reasoning first and your conclusions or proposals later. (p52)

You will satisfy your interests better if you talk about where you would like to go rather than where you have come from.

Be concrete but flexible- when negotiating, you want to know where you are going and yet be open to fresh ideas. Think of more than one option that meets your interests. "Illustrative specificity" is the key concept. (p53)

The wisest solutions that produce the maximum gain, at the minimum cost to the other side, are produced only by strongly advocating your interests. Attack the problem without blaming the people. Be personally supportive: listen to them with respect, show them curtsy, express your appreciation for their time and effort, emphasize your concern with meeting their basic needs, and so on. Show them that you are attaching the problem and not them. Give support to the other side equal in strength to the vigor with which you emphasize the problem. People do not like inconsistency.

Successful negotiation requires being both firm and open. (p55)

Chapter IV. Invent Options for Mutual Gain

Diagnosis-In most negotiations there are four major obstacles that inhibit the inventing of abundance options:

1) Premature judgment

2) Searching for the single answer.

3) The assumption of a fixed pie.

4) Thinking that "solving their problem is their problem."

In order to overcome these constraints, you need to understand them. (p57)

PRESCRIPTION: To invent creative options you will need to:

1) Separate the act of inventing options from the act of judging them.

2) Broaden the options on the table rather than look for a single answer.

3) Search for multiple gains.

4) Invent ways of making their decisions easy. (p60)


Separate inventing from deciding-Invent first, decide later. Arrange an inventing or brainstorming session with a few friends or colleagues. Come up with as many ideas as possible to solve the problem at hand. You are not to criticize and evaluate ideas. Invent without passing judgment on the ideas.


1) Define your purpose

2) Choose a few participants

3) Change the environment

4) Design an informal atmosphere

5) Choose a facilitator


1) Seat the participants side by side facing the problem together.

2) Clarify the ground rules, including the no- criticism rule. No negative criticism allowed.

3) Brainstorm.

4) Record the ideas in full view.


1) Star the most promising ideas.

2) Invent improvements for promising ideas.

3) Set up a time to evaluate ideas and decide. (p62)

Consider brainstorming with the other side. This will create a climate of joint problem solving, and of educating each side about the concerns of the other.

The key to wise decision-making lies in selecting from a great number and variety of options.

Brainstorming frees people to think creatively to find constructive solutions.

THE CIRCLE CHART-inventing options involves four types of thinking.

First type of thinking is to think about a particular problem.

Second type of thinking is descriptive analysis.

Third type is to consider what ought to be done.

Fourth type of thinking is to come up with some specific and feasible suggestion for action. (p66)


In The Real World-Step I. - Problem

What is wrong?

What are current symptoms?

What are disliked facts concentrated with preferred situation?

In Theory-Step II. -Analysis

Diagnose the problem: Sort symptoms into categories. Suggest causes. Observe what is lacking. Note barriers to resolving the problem.

In Theory -Step III. -Approaches

What are possible strategies or prescriptions? What are some theoretical cures? Generate broad ideas about what might be done.

In The Real World-Step IV.- Action Ideas

What might be done?

What specific steps might be taken to deal with the problem? (p68)

Look Through the eyes of different experts-examine your problem from the perspective of different professions and disciplines. Consider how each expert would diagnose the situation, what kinds of approaches might each suggest, and what practical suggestions would follow from these approaches. (p69)

IDENTIFY SHARED INTERESTS-shared interest helps to produce agreement.

1. They lie latent in every negotiation.

2. They are opportunities

3. Stressing your shared interest can make negotiations smoother and more amicable.

DOVETAIL Different Interests- Sometimes differences can solve the problem. Know what it is that the other party really wants. i.e.: One child wants the inside of the orange and the other wants the orange peal. Once you know more information about why each side wanted the orange. Once you knew the purpose behind the need for the orange, you were able to make both children happy. (p75)

Write out a sentence or two illustrating what the other side's most powerful critic might say about the decision you are thinking of asking for. Then write out a couple of sentences with which the other side might reply in defense. This should help you generate options that will adequately meet their interests so that they can make a decision to meet yours. Try to draft a proposal to which their responding with a single word "yes" would be sufficient, realistic, and operational.

Generate many options before selecting among them.

Invent first; decide later

Look for shared interests and differing interests to dovetail

Seek to make their decision easy.

Chapter V. Insist On Using Objective Criteria

The approach is to commit yourself to reaching a solution based on principle, not pressure. Concentrate on the merits of the problem, not the mettle of parties. Be open to reason, but closed to threats.

Principled negotiation produces wise agreements amicably. The more you bring standards to fairness, efficiency, or scientific merit to bear on your particular problem, the more likely you are to produce a final package that is wise and fair. (p83)

Developing Objective Criteria-

Prepare in advance-develop some alternative standards beforehand and think through their application to your case.

Negotiating with Objective Criteria-To discuss your objective criteria with the other side remember three basic points;

1. Frame each issue as a joint search for objective criteria

2. Reason and be open to reason as to which standards are most appropriate and how they should be applied.

3. Never yield to pressure, only to principle.

Agree first to principle.

Before even considering possible terms, you may want to agree on standard or standards to apply.

Chapter VI- What if they are more powerful? Develop your

"BATNA"=Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.

1. To protect you against making an agreement you should reject.

2. To help you make the most of the assets you do have so that any agreement you reach will satisfy your interests as well as possible. (p97)

Costs of a Bottom Line-

It may help prevent you from making a decision you would regret later, but it limits your ability to benefit from what you learn during negotiating. A bottom line by definition should not be changed. It also inhibits imagination because it is too rigid and may be set too high. It may prevent you from inventing and from agreeing to a solution that should be accepted. (p98 &99)

Your "BANTA" will help you recognize when to accept or reject a proposal.

This is the standard against which any proposed agreement should be measured. This is the only standard, which can protect you from accepting terms that are too unfavorable and from rejecting terms that are in your best interest to accept. It is flexible enough to permit exploration and imaginative solutions. (p100)

The better the BATNA the greater your power. (p102)

To generating possible BATNAs requires three distinct operations.

1. Inventing a list of accusations you might conceivably take if no agreement is reached.

2. Improving some of the more promising ideas and converting them into practical alternatives.

3. Selecting, tentatively, the one alternative that seems best.

Final step-Select the best among the alternatives. If you do not reach agreement in the negotiations, which of your realistic alternatives do you plan on pursuing?

The better your BATNA, the greater your ability to improve the terms of any negotiated agreement.