Getting Past No - A Critique

Topics: Negotiation, Collective bargaining, Trade union Pages: 9 (3431 words) Published: February 24, 2014
Clarkson Univeristy – OS 666
Getting Past No
A Critique

Aaron Cubells

In his book titled Getting Past No, William Ury encompasses the key elements that cultivate successful negotiation. He is able to step back and fundamentally view the dynamics between the two separate parties, which in turn allows him to formalize and explain a systemic set of guidelines that can be utilized to successfully negotiate. The tools he conveys are infinitely beneficial, especially since there are countless underlying forces that set each negotiation apart from one another. This leaves one to conclude that successful negotiation is truly an art in and of itself. Ury breaks down this art of successful negotiation into a “five step breakthrough strategy” that functionally operates to reach the ultimate goal: an agreement that truly satisfies both parties’ interests. First, one must become accustomed to not reacting and “going to the balcony” to keep their eye on the prize. Next, it is vital to disarm the opponent by stepping to their side and acknowledge where they are coming from. Within the third step, it is time to “change the game” by reframing the opposing party’s position, which avoids rejecting it completely. Subsequently, one has to make it easy for their opposition to say yes instead of no, or in Ury’s words, “building them a golden bridge.” The last step builds on its predecessor by making it hard for the other party to say no—bringing them to their senses, not their knees. This systematic approach to negotiating is abstract and not traditional, but these strategies can be used in the real world and hold priceless value. The following paragraphs explore these specific strategies and attest their relevance. Ury begins his writing by introducing the tactic of “going to the balcony,” which he frequently refers back to throughout the entire book. This tool is the foundation to a successful negotiation; the most crucial building block that will lead both parties to a final agreement. What exactly does “going to the balcony” mean? In a nutshell, this ideology refers to the avoidance of emotional influence, or in other words deterring oneself from allowing their emotions to create a reaction that prevents the arrival of a final agreement. When personal emotions get in the way within a negotiation, negative feedback is created that permits the actual goal of the negotiation to be lost. Isaac Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, which is not only relevant in physics, but in human behavior as well. But how does one get to the balcony? The two main strategies Ury describes are “naming the game” and “buying time to think.” The opponent might try to push one’s “hot” buttons to spark a reaction that will allow them to get their way. A good negotiator will be able to recognize this behavioral tactic (name the game), which in turn renders it useless. If this negotiator in fact becomes offended and wants to react in a defensive manner, it is time to start buying the time to think. They might step out of the room, or merely remove themself from the situation mentally. This method allows them to regroup and recollect their thoughts, which in turn keeps their “eyes on the prize.” Ury stresses that the balcony must be visited before any decision is made because the worst mistake is making a decision right on the spot. Make the decision on the balcony instead. Removing oneself makes individual reflection possible, which is necessary to accurately decipher the interests hidden behind their position, and yields the right decision to be made. To recap, “going to the balcony” keeps the negotiation objective and unrushed, prevents quick emotional reactions, controls the behavior on both sides, and allows one to concentrate on getting what both sides want. In my line of work at Chrysler LLC, I find that it is nearly a requirement for me to go to the balcony on a daily...
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