This is my review of Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton. It’s another book on negotiation, and it’s the second in the series I review, after Never Split The Difference. This is the original which started the whole trend.
The authors were part of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group setup to formally study negotiations. Things like BATNA and positional bargaining came into the public consciousness from this book. On the other hand, having read “Never Split The Difference”, and being in the process of reading “Getting More”, it did feel a bit underwhelming. Regardless, it was a good read, and I recommend it, for the baseline info if not for anything else.
The first chapter looks at the main problem in negotiations - bargaining over positions. This reduces the process itself to “just finding a number”, and an adversarial position between the two parties. Instead of one of trying to find the best possible outcomes along multiple axes.
The second chapter starts a large section on the method the book recommends for doing well in negotiations. The main point here is looking at a problem from the most objective way, and separating people’s issues from it.
The third chapter echoes a bunch of points from “Never Split The Difference” - getting inside the head of your counterparty and figuring out what they want for real, rather than assuming the discussion is all about the positions they take.
The fourth chapter offers a neat and comprehensive framework for discussion in negotiations. Instead of looking at “the price” and how to find a compromise, the advice is to find many varied sets of options along multiple axes. For the typical salary negotiation this might mean extra vacation days, or company sponsored courses, etc. Anything to take the problem from a decision on a number, to a decision among many options of varied value to the participants.
The fifth chapter closes this section and offers another tool for negotiations - insisting on objective criteria for decisions. Again, this is a common pattern with the other books. Especially if you can tie it to the rules, approaches, and previous decisions of your counterparty.
The sixth chapter opens the section on what can go wrong in the negotiation, and what to do if the counterpart isn’t exactly rational. BATNA - best alternative to a negotiated agreement - is introduced here. The main thing is to try to view the negotiation in a broader focus and find what the outcome of a failed negotiation might be. It can very well be the case that not closing a deal is the best outcome.
The seventh chapter focuses on negotiators who won’t budge - either they have the upper hand, or their BATNA is good enough to not cause them trouble. Negotiation jujitsu is the alternative offered here.
Finally, the eight chapter focuses on negotiators who outright are aggressive and use dirty tricks. Again, not a great situation to be in, but there’s a bunch of tips and tricks here to get you through it.
As I’ve said, I feel I got more out of the first book than this one. It’s to be expected perhaps, but in the end it doesn’t diminish this book.