In 1981, the first publication of getting Getting to Yes came out and since then it has been translated into many languages. In 1983, authors Ury, Patton and Fisher founded the Harvard project for Negotiation based on their seminar work on conflict resolution. With time they have been engaged in international and national negotiations, the central focus is the certainty that conflict resolution and negotiation skills are highly required in our world in all levels, from communities to international relations and individuals through families.
Ury and Fisher have explained that good arguments need to be efficient and wise, and improve the relationship between parties. According to them, wise agreements satisfy the interests of parties and form a path to reach good agreements. Negotiations mostly take the form of ‘positional bargaining’, where both parties open about their side of the story and where they stand. Parties start to bargain from their opening positions to come to the agreement on one position. Positional Bargaining example includes parties haggling over the price. Fisher and Ury have argued that positional bargaining doesn’t produce good agreements. Positional Bargaining is an inefficient mean to reach agreements as a positional agreement mostly neglects the best interests of parties’. This encourages stubbornness and harms the relationship between parties’. In contrast, principled negotiation is a better way to reach agreements. Fisher and Ury have developed four principles of negotiation.
The majority of this book is on ‘The Method’ of doing principled negotiation. There are four methods of Principled Negotiation, these includes:
Separating the People from the Problem
Fisher and Ury have stated that the first principle is separating the people from the problem. People can become personally involved with their parties’ position and their problems. Also, people will tend to give responses to the positions and issues such as personal attacks. Separating people from the problems makes it possible for the parties to address the problem at hand without harming their relationship. It also helps them in getting a refined view of the substantive issue at hand.
Focusing on Interests, not Positions
Good agreements are focused on the interest of parties, rather on their positions. Fisher and Ury have explained, “Your position is something you have decided upon. Your interests are what caused you to so decide”. Explaining the problem in the terms of position makes at least one of the parties’ losing the dispute. When an issue is explained in the terms of underlying interests of parties, it is possible to find solutions that satisfy the interest of both parties’.
Generating Options for Mutual Gain
Fisher and Ury have identified four obstacles that generate creative options to solve a problem. Parties’ might decide on an option prematurely without considering the alternatives. The parties might be intent to narrow their options in finding a single answer. Parties might define the problem in terms of win-lose, assuming that is the only option. Or one party might decide that other party needs to come up with a solution to the issue.
Using Mutually agreed and objective criteria for evaluating Possible Solutions
When interests of parties are directly opposite, the parties need to use objective criteria for resolving their differences. Allowing these differences can spark a battle between parties that would destroy their relationship, is inefficient and is unlikely to get results. Decisions that are taken on the basis of reasonable standards simplify the issues for the parties to agree and preserve their relationship.
The goal here is to consider that strategy that helps in vigorously pursuing without involving the high costs involved with positional bargaining. Fisher and Ury have explained and given examples of negotiations that turn out ingenious, and require implementation of principled positioning over positional positioning. The surprise element of the book is in one of the final chapters ‘Yes But’. What is they are more powerful? Step 1, protect yourself. What if They Won’t Play? Then change the game by starting to play another game; start by concentrating on the merits. Step aside of the problem, do not defend or push back and invite criticism. Then start to hear arguments of the other party and turn them towards the problem. Start to ask questions and pause, become mediator and create the proposal for criticism, revise it and ask for more criticism. Move the sides out from their positions and into a position of assessing the problem. Finally, What if They Use Dirty Tricks? For some parties negotiating can be an exceptional challenge, as they tend to trust easily. This might allow others to take advantage, by separating the people from the issue and making decisions independent of the trust factor.
Getting to Yes, is a map, a thoughtful discussion, practical primer on a conflict in our lives. This book guides its readers with its step-step process, using principles and avoiding positions. Conflicts are part of life—it can involve friends or family, with groups or individuals involved in our lives and at work and with organizations and institutions. I personally believe this book encourages, comforts and reassures that results can be delivered through the learning and applied principles. Simply put, this book is not about giving up what we need or who we are; it is about finding a road map that works for us and the other party.