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Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In Paperback – January 1, 1992
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We're constantly negotiating in our lives, whether it's convincing the kids to do their homework or settling million-dollar lawsuits. For those who need help winning these battles, Roger Fisher has developed a simple and straightforward five-step system for how to behave in negotiations. Narrated soothingly by NPR announcer Bob Edwards, Fisher adds the meaty portions of the material with a sense of playfulness. The blend of voices makes this tape easy to listen to, especially the real-life negotiating scenarios
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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!
On the other hand, anyone who has successfully negotiated even the most minor of deals (i.e. haggling), won't find this as useful. In order to be effective, you have to convince all parties to accept the premise of principled negotiation. If they don't the whole system falls apart. Furthermore, if you are in an adversarial proceeding (lawsuit, arbitration, etc.), this is fairly useless. In those proceedings, the other party either doesn't care whether you "win" or actively wants you to lose. If you come up against a manipulator, the practices in this book will prove to be more hindrance than help. I had to read this as part of a law school class. To put it mildly, other aspects of the class were far more useful than this book.
Bottom Line: a good starting point. Just don't make it a stopping point.