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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In / Edition 2

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In / Edition 2

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Since its original publication in 1981, Getting to Yes has been translated into 18 languages and has sold over 1 million copies in its various editions. This completely revised edition is a universal guide to the art of negotiating personal and professional disputes. It offers a concise strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780395631249
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 04/30/1992
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 332,270
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

William Ury, a consultant, writer, and lecturer on negotiation, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project.

Roger Fisher teaches negotiation at Harvard Law School. He frequently appears on television as a negotiations expert and is the director of the Harvard Negotiation Project.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 4: Invent Options for Mutual Gain

The case of Israel and Egypt negotiating over who should keep how much of the Sinai Peninsula illustrates both a major problem in negotiation and a key opportunity.

the pie that leaves both parties satisfied. Often you are negotiating along a single dimension, such as the amount of territory, the price of a car, the length of a lease on an apartment, or the size of a commission on a sale. At other times you face what appears to be an either/or choice that is either markedly favorable to you or to the other side. In a divorce settlement, who gets the house? Who gets custody of the children? You may see the choice as one between winning and losing- and neither side will agree to lose. Even if you do win and get the car for $12,000, the lease for five years, or the house and kids, you have a sinking feeling that they will not let you forget it. Whatever the situation, your choices seem limited.

option like a demilitarized Sinai can often make the difference between deadlock and agreement. One lawyer we know attributes his success directly to his ability to invent solutions advantageous to both his client and the other side. He expands the pie before dividing it. Skill at inventing options is one of the most useful assets a negotiator can have.

Yet all too often negotiators end up like the proverbial children who quarreled over an orange. After they finally agreed to divide the orange in half, the first child took one half, ate the fruit, and threw away the peel, while the other threw away. the fruit and used the peel from the second half in baking a cake. All too often negotiators "leave money on the table" - they fail to reach agreement when they might have, or the agreement they do reach could have been better for each side. Too many negotiations end up with half an orange for each side instead of the whole fruit for one and the whole peel for the other. Why?


As valuable as it is to have many options, people involved in a negotiation rarely sense a need for them. In a dispute, people usually believe that they know the right answer - their view should prevail. In a contract negotiation they are equally likely to believe that their offer is reasonable and should be adopted, perhaps with some adjustment in the price. All available answers appear to lie along a straight line between their position and yours. Often the only creative thinking shown is to suggest splitting the difference.

inventing of an abundance of options: (1) premature judgment; (2) searching for the single answer; (3) the assumption of a fixed pie; and (4) thinking that "solving their problem is their problem." In order to overcome these constraints, you need to understand them.

Premature judgment

Inventing options does not come naturally. Not inventing is the normal state of affairs, even when you are outside a stressful negotiation. If you were asked to name the one person in the world most deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize, any answer you might start to propose would immediately encounter your reservations and doubts. How could you be sure that that person was the most deserving? Your mind might well go blank, or you might throw out a few answers that would reflect conventional thinking: "Well, maybe the Pope, or the President."

pounce on the drawbacks of any new idea. Judgment hinders imagination.

sense is likely to be sharper. Practical negotiation appears to call for practical thinking, not wild ideas.

on the other side. Suppose you are negotiating with your boss over your salary for the coming year. You have asked for a $4,000 raise; your boss has offered you $1,500, a figure that you have indicated is unsatisfactory. In a tense situation like this you are not likely to start inventing imaginative solutions. You may fear that if you suggest some bright half-baked idea like taking half the increase in a raise and half in additional benefits, you might look foolish. Your boss might say, "Be serious. You know better than that. It would upset company policy. I am surprised. that you even suggested it." If on the spur of the moment you invent a possible option of spreading out the raise over time, he may take it as an offer: "I'm prepared to start negotiating on that basis." Since he may take whatever you say as a commitment, you will think twice before saying anything.

piece of information that will jeopardize your bargaining position. If you should suggest, for example, that the company help finance the house you are about to buy, your boss may conclude that you intend to stay and that you will in the end accept any raise in salary he is prepared to offer.

Searching for the single answer

In most people's minds, inventing simply is not part of the negotiating process. People see their job as narrowing the gap between positions, not broadening the options available. They tend to think, "We're having a hard enough time agreeing as it is. The last thing we need is a bunch of different ideas." Since the end product of negotiation is a single decision, they fear that freefloating discussion will only delay and confuse the process.

the second is premature closure. By looking from the outset for the single best answer, you are likely to short-circuit a wiser decision-making process in which you select from a large number of possible answers.

The assumption of a fixed pie

A third explanation for why there may be so few good options on the table is that each side sees the situation as essentially either/or - either I get what is in dispute or you do. A negotiation often appears to be a "fixed-sum" game; $100 more for you on the price of a car means $100 less for me. Why bother to invent if all the options are obvious and I can satisfy you only at my own expense?

Thinking that "solving their problem Is their problem"

A final obstacle to inventing realistic options lies in each side's concern with only its own immediate interests. For a negotiator to reach an agreement that meets his own self-interest he needs to develop a solution which also appeals to the self-interest of the other. Yet emotional involvement on one side of an issue makes it difficult to achieve the detachment necessary to think up wise ways of meeting the interests of both sides: "We've got enough problems of our own; they can look after theirs." There also frequently exists a psychological reluctance to accord any legitimacy to the views of the other side; it seems disloyal to think up ways to satisfy them. Shortsighted self- concern thus leads a negotiator to develop only partisan positions, partisan arguments, and one-sided solutions....

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ..... xi
Introduction ..... xvii

Part I: The Problem ..... 1

Chapter 1: Don't Bargain Over Positions ..... 3

Part II: The Method ..... 15
Chapter 2: Separate the PEOPLE from the Problem ..... 17
Chapter 3: Focus on INTERESTS, Not Positions ..... 40
Chapter 4: Invent OPTIONS for Mutual Gain ..... 56
Chapter 5: Insist on Using Objective Criteria ..... 81

Part III: Yes, But ..... 95
Chapter 6: What If They Are More Powerful? ..... 97
Chapter 7: What If They Won't Play? ..... 107
Chapter 8: What If They Use Dirty Tricks? ..... 129

Part IV: In Conclusion ..... 145

Part V: Ten Questions People Ask About Getting to Yes ..... 149

Analytical table of Contents ..... 189
A Note on the Harvard Negotiation Project ..... 199
Question 1: "Does positional bargaining ever make sense?"
Question 2: "What if the other side believes in a different standard of fairness?"
Question 3: "Should I be fair if I don't have to be?"
Question 4: "What do I do if the people are the problem?"
Question 5: "Should I negotiate even with terrorists or someone like Hitler? When does it make sense not to negotiate?"
Question 6: "How should I adjust my negotiating approach to account for differences of personality, gender, culture, and so on?"
Question 7: "How do I decide things like 'Where should we meet?' 'Who should make the first offer?' and 'How high should I start?'"
Question 8: "Concretely, how do I move from inventing options to making commitments?"
Question 9: "How do I try out these ideas without taking too much risk?"
Question 10: "Can the way I negotiate really make a difference if the other side is more powerful?" And "How do I enhance my negotiating power?"


Like it or not, you are a negotiator. Negotiation is a fact of life. You discuss a raise with your boss. You try to agree with a stranger on a price for his house. Two lawyers try to settle a lawsuit arising from a car accident. A group of oil companies plan a joint venture exploring for offshore oil. A city official meets with union leaders to avert a transit strike. The United States Secretary of State sits down with his Soviet counterpart to seek an agreement limiting nuclear arms. All these are negotiations.

Everyone negotiates something every day. Like Moliere's Monsieur Jourdain, who was delighted to learn that he had been speaking prose all his life, people negotiate even when they don't think of themselves as doing so. You negotiate with your spouse about where to go for dinner and with your child about when the lights go out. Negotiation is a basic means of getting what you want from others. It is back-and-forth communication designed to reach an agreement when you and the other side have some interests that are shared and others that are opposed.

More and more occasions require negotiation; conflict is a growth industry. Everyone wants to participate in decisions that affect them; fewer and fewer people will accept decisions dictated by someone else. People differ, and they use negotiation to handle their differences. Whether in business, government, or the family, people reach most decisions through negotiation, Even when they go to court, they almost always negotiate a settlement before trial.

Although negotiation takes place every day, it is not easy to do well. Standard strategies for negotiation often leave people dissatisfied, worn out, oralienated-and frequently all three.

People find themselves in a dilemma. They see two ways to negotiate: soft or hard. 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. Hi 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. Other standard negotiating strategies fall between hard and soft, but each involves an attempted trade-off between getting what you want and getting along with people.

There is a third way to negotiate, a way neither hard nor soft, but rather both hard and soft. The method of principled negotiation developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project is to decide issues on their merits rather than through a haggling process focused on what each side says it will and won't do. It suggests that you look for mutual gains whenever possible, and that where your interests conflict, you should insist that the result be based on some fair standards independent of the will of either side. The method of principled negotiation is hard on the merits, soft on the people. It employs no tricks and no posturing. Principled negotiation shows you how to obtain what you are entitled to and still be decent. It enables you to be fair while protecting you against those who would take advantage of your fairness.

This book is about the method of principled negotiation. The first chapter describes problems that arise in using the standard strategies of positional bargaining. The next four chapters lay out the four principles of the method. The last three chapters answer the questions most commonly asked about the method: What if the other side is more powerful? What if they will not play along? And what if they use dirty tricks?

Principled negotiation can be used by United States diplomats in arms control talks with the Soviet Union, by Wall Street lawyers representing Fortune 500 companies in antitrust cases, and by couples in deciding everything from where to go for vacation to how to divide their property if they get divorced. Anyone can use this method.

Every negotiation is different, but the basic elements do not change. Principled negotiation can be used whether there is one issue or several; two parties or many; whether there is a prescribed ritual, as in collective bargaining, or an impromptu free-for-all, as in talking with hijackers. The method applies whether the other side is more experienced or less, a hard bargainer or a friendly one. Principled negotiation is an all-purpose strategy. Unlike almost all other strategies, if the other side learns this one, it does not become more difficult to use; it becomes easier. If they read this book, all the better.

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Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
kawgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book! No matter what field you are in, or if you are in a relationship; you will learn improved communication techniques from this book. You will learn some good ways to achieve win-win situations. A must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago