Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Roger Fisher and William Ury
Roger Fisher and William Ury, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, (New York: Penguin Books, 1983). In this classic text, Fisher and Ury describe their four principles for effective negotiation. They also describe three common obstacles to negotiation and discuss ways to overcome those obstacles. Fisher and Ury explain that a good agreement is one which is wise and efficient, and which improves the parties' relationship. Wise agreements satisfy the parties' interests and are fair and lasting. The authors' goal is to develop a method for reaching good agreements. Negotiations often take the form of positional bargaining. In positional bargaining each part opens with their position on an issue. The parties then bargain from their separate opening positions to agree on one position. Haggling over a price is a typical example of positional bargaining. Fisher and Ury argue that positional bargaining does not tend to produce good agreements. It is an inefficient means of reaching agreements, and the agreements tend to neglect the parties' interests. It encourages stubbornness and so tends to harm the parties' relationship. Principled negotiation provides a better way of reaching good agreements. Fisher and Ury develop four principles of negotiation. Their process of principled negotiation can be used effectively on almost any type of dispute. Their four principles are 1) separate the people from the problem; 2) focus on interests rather than positions; 3) generate a variety of options before settling on an agreement; and 4) insist that the agreement be based on objective criteria. [p. 11] These principles should be observed at each stage of the negotiation process. The process begins with the analysis of the situation or problem, of the other parties' interests and perceptions, and of the existing options. The next stage is to plan ways of responding to the situation and the other parties. Finally, the parties discuss the problem trying to find a solution on which they can agree.
Separating People and Issues
Fisher and Ury's first principle is to separate the people from the issues. People tend to become personally involved with the issues and with their side's positions. And so they will tend to take responses to those issues and positions as personal attacks. Separating the people from the issues allows the parties to address the issues without damaging their relationship. It also helps them to get a clearer view of the substantive problem. The authors identify three basic sorts of people problems. First are differences on perception among the parties. Since most conflicts are based in differing interpretations of the facts, it is crucial for both sides to understand the other's viewpoint. The parties should try to put themselves in the other's place. The parties should not simply assume that their worst fears will become the actions of the other party. Nor should one side blame the other for the problem. Each side should try to make proposals which would be appealing to the other side. The more that the parties are involved in the process, the more likely they are to be involved in and to support the outcome. Emotions are a second source of people problems. Negotiation can be a frustrating process. People often react with fear or anger when they feel that their interests are threatened. The first step in dealing with emotions is to acknowledge them, and to try to understand their source. The parties must acknowledge the fact that certain emotions are present, even when they don't see those feelings as reasonable. Dismissing another's feelings as unreasonable is likely to provoke an even more intense emotional response. The parties must allow the other side to express their emotions. They must not react emotionally to emotional outbursts. Symbolic gestures such as apologies...
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