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Harvard Concept

By | May 2011
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Harvard Concept (Fisher and Urgy)

"Getting to Yes" (also called the Harvard concept) describes a method called principled negotiation to reach an agreement whose success is judged by three criteria: 1. It should produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible. 2. It should be efficient.

3. It should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties. The authors argue that their method can be used in virtually any negotiation. Issues are decided upon by their merits and the goal is a win-win situation for both sides. Below is a summary of some of the key concepts from the book. The four steps of a principled negotiation are: 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
In principled negotiations, negotiators are encouraged to take the view that all the participants are problem solvers rather than adversaries. The authors recommend that the goal should be to reach an outcome "efficiently and amicably." The steps can be described in more detail as follows.

Step 1: Separate the people from the problem

All negotiations involve people and people are not perfect. We have emotions, our own interests and goals and we tend to see the world from our point of view. We also are not always the best communicators; many of us are not good listeners. Getting to YES outlines a number of tools for dealing with the problems of perception, emotion and communication. However, the authors stress that separating people from problems is the best option. The keys to prevention are: "building a working relationship" and "facing the problem, not the people." Think of the people you negotiate with on a regular basis. Generally, the better we know someone, the easier it is to face a negotiation together. We tend to view people we don't know with more suspicion: just what is "Bob" up to? Take time to get to know the other party before...

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