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The title of Fisher and Ury's book is Getting to Yes - Negotiating Agreement without Giving In. It's a case where the title clearly lays out what the book is about. In Getting to Yes the authors present, step by step, how to find your way to a win-win solution that helps meet your goals while at the same time preserving the relationship so that future negotiations also go smoothly.

This book was the assigned textbook for a college course I took on negotiation, but it's one of those fairly rare cases where the material that's useful for a college course is also immensely useful for off-the-street people in a variety of situations. This book avoids complicated jargon and long, droning background chapters. Instead, it plunges into helpful information to assist people in negotiating for a new car, negotiating issues with their landlords, and all the many ways we all negotiate for our position throughout life.

Negotiation isn't just for union leaders trying to avert a strike. All of us negotiate each day as we try to juggle our many roles. We negotiate with our co-workers over assignments. We negotiate with our family members over chores. In an ideal world all of those discussions would go quickly, smoothly, and with as little strife as possible.

Getting to Yes provided numerous helpful examples which made their points more easy to understand. It is so true that people tend to remember stories where they might not remember dry text. When I think about this book I do remember several of the stories clearly, and those help to represent the points the authors were making. The stories help remind me to focus on the issues when negotiating and to look for objective standards to work with.

The information presented is wonderful, and immediately useful in life.

On the down side, this is a new version of older material. The authors chose to keep the initial book in its original form and then add on additional information at the end. I appreciate for historical reasons why they wanted to do that. However, from a fresh reader point of view, I feel they should present an integrated whole which most clearly presents the full information. The way the book is laid out currently, you have to go back and forth to find all information on a given topic.

Also, the format is not laid out for easy reference. If they went more for a "dummies" style with an easy to scan layout, graphs and charts to quickly find and scan, and quick end-summaries, that would make this more useful as a reference book to keep on a shelf. Right now if I had an issue to handle it would be less than quick to grab the book and find the answer. I would have to wade through the book to figure out where to get the support I needed.

Still, I do recommend that everyone read this book at least once, to build their skills in negotiation. It's something we all have to do!
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on March 24, 2003
This is the first book I ever read on negotiating, and at the time I found it extremely good. However, since then, I have read both Shell's "Bargaining for Advantage" and Cialdini's "Influence", and found those two books immensely better than Getting to Yes, for a few different reasons.
Number of stories - in Getting to Yes, the authors do not offer enough stories to burn the concepts into the reader's mind. I personally think stories are the best way to communicate something like negotiating.
Actual psychological concepts explained - Getting to Yes is a summary of findings, and it never explains why certain things work. Without a deep understanding, it is not clear when the concepts work and when they don't. Especially in Influence, you really get to understand how to persuade someone by remembering the core psych concepts.
If you are just looking for a quick intro to negotiating, this is a decent book. If you would like to actually understand people and how to influence them, this is too basic.
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on June 14, 2006
The book, GETTING TO YES, by Roger Fisher and William Ury is perhaps the most important book on negotiation I have ever read. I have personally benefitted from this book simply because I am even more aware of the importance of preparation and identifying shared interests and taking advantage of them. Respect, always respect, the other person's interests. More importantly, know them well.

Highlights:
The book is on principled negotiation, which is essentially negotiation on merits. The aim is to reach a wise agreement, defined as meeting the legitimate interests of all parties to the extent possible, resolving conflicting interests fairly, and ensuring the agreement is durable and takes community interests in account.

The factors of principled negotiation include:

PEOPLE: separting people from the issues/problems.
INTERESTS: focus on them, particularly mutual interests, and not on "positions." E.g., the expression of "you are in no position to negotiation" is absolutely absurd. One, it is an assumption unless the person stating that carefully prepared. Two, it can generally only hurt the person stating that, generating hostility and conflict. A principled negotiator probes interests, raises questions. The question, then, is "what are your interests in this deal?" and "Why do you suppose that is a fair proposal?"
PLANNING: a skilled negotiator will gather, organize, and weigh all information carefully relating to a negotiation. If there is one concept I could share with you, it is "prepare."
CRITERIA: prior to reaching an agreement, the parties should agree to using objective criteria to measure an agreement; these include market value, precedent, and so forth.
OPTIONS: generate a variety of options to reach an agreement. Envision what a successful outcome would be from the negotiation prior to negotiation, then generate several possibilities of satisfying everyone's interests to obtain the goal.

Specific Questions I had that were answered:
a) When personally attacked, what to do?
Control yourself, let the other side vent, then remain silent. Do not embarrass them, do not attack back.

b) More on this concept of "interests?"
First, find shared interests. Two, acknolwedge the other side's interests as a part of the whole system of negotiation. Share what your interests are pointedly, then provide your reasoning for reaching your proposal.

c) If the other side is way more powerful?
One must know her/his BATNA well. It is your Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement (I think that is the correct acroynm). The better your BATNA is, the more power you have. If you have a very bad BATNA, you must realize that "how" you negotiate is extremely important. Your BATNA should be your measure against any proposal made by the other side. If your BATNA is better, then you obviously reject the proposal.

d) What if the other side is choleric, tricky, and applies pressures to force me into agreement?
You should first recognize the tactics being used. "Oh, this is the old good and bad cop routine." Then, expose it. Say, "excuse me, unless I am mistaken, you two are playing good cop and bad cop with me. Now, let's just focus on interests and reach a mutually satisfying agreement." If they put sun in your eyes, request to move. If your enviroment is hostile or discomforting, you have a right to request a change in setting. Most importantly, recognize them... do not be phased by them.

e) I am powerful, they are weak. How should/can I exploit them?
Resources do not make you a powerful negotiator. All the king's soldiers and all the king's men cannot make you a powerful negotiator, particularly if your socalled "power" will not impact the other side. It is best to focus on mutual interests and attempt to reach an agreement to satisfying them. Threating a person, mentioning your power will most-likely undermine your ability to reach agreement.

In conclusion, this book can be a benefit for all people. Why? It shows you how to take into account other people's interests to satisfy your own. It is crucial for individuals to terminate the concept that to "win" in negotiations is to take advantage of other people. To succeed in negotiation, it is not about exploiting people but getting what you want. Essentially, satisfying your interests; this book can show you how.

I hope the above was helpful,
Clovis
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on January 8, 1998
The foundation of all great negotiation books, Getting to Yes gives you the real essence of mutual gains negotiation. It's a neat, concise, little paperback, and a fast read. It's so neat and concise, in fact, that you should buy multiple copies and hand them out to people you like - or to people you want to like you. I've read it a dozen or so times and I keep finding new insights. The main ideas of the book are that positional negotiation is pointless, and that our negotiations should focus on interests rather than positions. As far as I'm concerned, if that's the only thing you recall from reading this book, you'll have learned something indispensable. But, by the time you finish Getting to Yes, you'll be convinced that negotiation is a simple matter of figuring out what you really want, what the other side wants, and working out the space where those interests intersect -- despite the generalizations, deletions, and distortions the other side might use to confuse you. One of the leading fundamental constructs presented in Getting to Yes - which differs radically from my own number one tenet - is "separate the people from the problem." Getting to Yes proposes that problems exist objectively and can be analyzed on their own merits, independent of people's perceptions, attributions, and relationships. My contention is that a problem only exists to whatever extent it is perceived by the beholder. As such , there is no problem if you separate the people from it. In real life, it's impossible to disentangle people issues from discussions of "concrete substance." Regardless of the prescriptive in Getting to Yes, real problem solving negotiations require constant simultaneous attention to the problem and the people. The skills you really need to extract and understand others' perceived interests in the context of a relationship aren't taught in Getting to Yes. The book diagnoses the conditions that cause difficulty in negotiation, but doesn't offer all components of the cure. Nevertheless, one dose each of Sales Effectiveness Training and Getting to Yes should cure just about anything that ails any normal negotiation. As John Kenneth Galbraith says of Getting to Yes, "This is by far the best thing I've ever read about negotiation...equally relevant for the individual who would like to keep his friends, property, and income and the statesman who would like to keep the peace." What other endorsement do you need?
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on September 23, 2012
There are a few books that have such relevance to so many aspects of daily life that they should be on everyone's "must read" list, and this is one of them. Although at first it might seem that this is merely one more addition to the seemingly endless pile of platitudinous self-help books that crowd the bookshelves and deliver little or no real worth, in fact this book is a highly pragmatic text on the process of negotiation. The authors don't pretend that negotiating will get you everything you want - in fact they are very clear on the limitations of negotiation and how to think of negotiation as a process that has strict boundaries. What the book does is make explicit the nature of negotiation, the types of tactics people commonly use, and the most competent method for pursuing negotiations so as to maximize the possibility of achieving a negotiated outcome both parties can live with. The text is clear, the examples simple to grasp, and the conceptual framework adequately developed. Nowadays we might add some learning that evolutionary psychology has provided, but aside from that this is a superb book that can enable enhanced outcomes in most realms of life, from family conflicts through business negotiations to community issues. The entire book can be read and absorbed in less than two hours, but the lessons can be applied over a lifetime.
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on October 7, 2011
After reading Roger Dawson's "Secrets of Power Negotiating" (another outstanding book, by the way), I did not expect to learn much new material from this book. I was wrong - "Getting to Yes" offers a new approach to negotiating. As the authors point out, we negotiate constantly in our daily lives. Most of us are unaware of the times we negotiate with our friends, coworkers, and family. What this book teaches readers is to how to go about resolving conflicts in an unemotional and logical way. Much of the advice here is given in the context of negotiating, but interestingly it could have easily been positioned as a book on influence. The material here reminded me of Dale Carnegies' "How to Win Friends and Influence People" (also a brilliant book).

I don't think that people should just read this book to get an advantage in negotiating. In fact, all sides would probably be mutually better off if they read this book. It advances civil society by promoting talk over violence and anger. I wonder why these books are not required reading for high school students. I certainly wish I had come across them when I was younger.
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In virtually all circumstances where people are working together, they come to agreement in ways that short-change the interests of everyone involved. This landmark book shows practical ways to find out what other people want, and to devise better alternatives that create a "win" for everyone. The authors do a great job of overcoming the preconception that many hold that working on problems means that you have to be unpleasant. The advice to be hard on the problems and easy on the people (building a relationship) is a key concept that everyone can use. I have found this book to be one of the most helpful that I have every read, and I cite its lessons in my own book. I recently had a chance to use these principles in a negotiating workshop with veteran negotiators, and I was struck by how few people apply the lessons of GETTING TO YES. You will vastly improve your life if you read and practice the ideas in GETTING TO YES.
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on December 22, 1999
Overall, I like this book a lot and I found it very useful.
Actually I didn't read through the whole book. Yet I did capture the key point of the book - 'Don't bargain over positions'. Then I used this principle-based negotiation in real life. For instance, when I am facing a challenge from my partner on my proposal, I won't fight back directly. I will first seek for the mutual interest, a common ground. Then I'll explain why I think my proposal can help achieve the mutual interest. Then I ask the opposing partner what he/she think and whether he/she wants to share any better proposal to achieve this mutual interest. If my/mutual interest can be satisfied, yet my partner has a better way to do it, then why not change my own proposal? I tried this approach several times and they all worked out pretty well. Most of the times I successfully convinced my partner without damaging relationship. A few times I changed my position yet I was still happy because I still had my interest satisfied.
Net, this book is really useful and recommend to BUY for everyone.
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on January 2, 2003
Almost everyone can benefit from improved negotiating skills. This 1981 classic, updated in 1991 with new material responding to questions from readers, continues to provide practical guidelines for executives dealing with each other, with superiors and staff, with customers, partners, suppliers, and government regulators. If you have ignored this as a pop book, take a good look at it. This practical, non-academic, and well-illustrated book does not waste the reader's time with filler. The authors explain the problems that arise from bargaining over positions, presenting an alternative approach. Their method revolves around four elements: Separate the people from the problem; focus on interests, not positions; invent options for mutual gain; and insist on using objective criteria. They offer helpful approaches for situations where the other side is more powerful, refuses to play, or uses dirty tricks. The range of situations in which their approach can be applied is almost limitless. Keep this one close at hand to refer to repeatedly until "principled negotiation" becomes ingrained and natural.
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on October 13, 2000
I read this book in an MBA course for Dispute Mediation. Although it was not a required reading, every text and article mentioned this book. You can easily read it in a weekend. Do not expect theory, paradigm, or lofty descriptions-this is cut to the chase stuff that lets you know many techniques for negotiating and helping the other side make a decision that is right for all involved. Some helpful key concepts include elimintating emotions from the process, or dealing with the emotional techniques that the other side may use against you. It also describes BATNA, or the best alternatives to a negotiated agreement-those agreements which may be the most realistic and beneficial terms for both sides. I think that the other book, getting past no, by the same author, is an additional reference that anyone considerring this book should also read as an excellent complementary text to the principles outlined in this classic.
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