Reading – The Principles of “Getting To Yes”

Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher is a best-seller, 1981 non-fiction volume focusing on bargaining. It includes forty chapters with eleven sections dealing with negotiation techniques and strategies. The principles discussed apply to all kinds of negotiations, not just those involving businesses. A further forty-eight chapters deal with business planning, negotiating and mediation, alternative approaches to dispute resolution, alternative methods of dispute resolution, alternative approaches to contract enforcement, and negotiation and agreement processes.

In Getting To Yes, Roger Fisher makes eleven powerful suggestions regarding negotiating successively and agreeing successfully. Although many of these chapters overlap, many have unique insights. The chapters that deal with how to make decisions strategically, the importance of clarity and openness in negotiations, the need for open minds, and the value of incentives are particularly useful. Each of these principles has important implications for negotiations.

At the outset, Getting To Yes is organized into eleven parts, each focusing on one principle of negotiation. These include:

  • the desirability of an outcome,
  • fairness in negotiations,
  • negotiation skills and social skills,
  • intrapersonal and interpersonal communications,
  • negotiation formats,
  • time-frame concerns, and
  • alternative approaches to dispute resolution.

The cover of the book contains this concise outline of the eleven negotiating principles. At the end of each part of the ten-step guide, a section titled “actions.” Fisher provides a few tips and hints for handling the negotiations and concluding with a couple of recommendations.

One of the chapters in Getting To Yes focuses on the desirability of an outcome. Roger Fisher writes that everyone prefers an outcome where all parties achieve their goals. However, if the desired outcome is not obtainable, pursuing “building” goals instead is possible. The book cover contains a table of suggested objectives, concluding with suggested ways to make these objectives more attainable. The foreword to the chapter focuses on some of the problems involved in building objectives. This useful chapter includes a discussion of the desirability of an outcome and a description of building objectives.

The principles of negotiation are divided into four key categories. These include the principle of reciprocity, impartiality, the principle of subjectivity, and the principle of positive behavior. The book contains numerous illustrations showing how these four principles can be applied in real-world situations. The conflict is depicted through the example of a family feud that goes out of control. Following the conflict, the family tries to find a way to solve their conflict without resorting to violence.

Another example is illustrated in Getting To Yes with a look at international political negotiations during the Cold War. The author shows how U.S. negotiators helped minimize the impact of the Cuban Missile Crisis, resulting in the release of fifty-six nuclear missiles from Cuba. Following this example, the reader is also introduced to the potential negative and positive consequences of terrorist acts. The threat of terrorist acts is illustrated through a series of vignettes demonstrating different scenarios where a terrorist attack might occur.

One of the most important principles described in Getting To Yes is the principle of subjectivity. The book provides numerous case studies to illustrate how people creatively negotiate conflict. The case studies presented illustrate how negotiators can adopt a “rule-of-thumb” approach to the negotiation process. This approach involves following the logic of the situation and crafting your own solution. The book rightly emphasizes that to truly learn how to effectively negotiate, one must apply themselves and constantly study new situations.

This is an exceptional text for those interested in learning about some of the most important negotiation principles. Roger Fisher has assembled a book that is filled with practical tips and techniques. This is an excellent reference for students or professionals interested in learning more about bargaining and political science.

Reading – The Principles of “Getting To Yes”