Business Negotiation in the Book Getting To Yes

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"Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In"

By: Peter Block

Written: 11/28/05

For our book report for IS Planning and Management, we were to read and review, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton. The book was written to educate readers on how to become better, more effective negotiators. They start with defining the difference between positional negotiations versus principled negotiations. They then move on describing their four principles for effective negotiation: People, Interests, Options, and Criteria. Additionally, they describe three common obstacles to negotiation - when the other party is more powerful, what if they won't play, and when the other party uses dirty tricks - and discuss ways to overcome those obstacles. They also emphasize that all four negotiation principles should be used throughout the negotiation process. Finally, the team of authors answers ten commonly asked questions. In this review we will touch briefly on these points.

The most common form of negotiation depends on the taking and subsequent relinquishing of a position. A typical example of this type of negotiation would be the classic scene of a merchant in a bazaar, haggling with a potential customer. Each holding fast to some ideal thought of a price for a bobble, neither willing to budge. This type of negotiation, according to the text, can produce "unwise agreements" and is also labeled as "inefficient" as both sides tend to dig in. This lack of headway relates directly to ego, and pride as it locks all participants in. They can neither back off nor change position for fear of "losing face" and embarrassment. This type of bargaining can become even more complicated if there are more than two participating parties.

Principled negotiation is negotiating on the merits of a concept or an idea. This, according to the text, can be boiled down to four main points:

1) People : Separate the people from the problem

2) Interests : Focus on interests, not positions

3) Options : Give a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do

4) Criteria : Insist that the result be based on some objective standard

By separating the people from the problem, you try to remove the emotions from the negotiation. You try to build a team environment between your party and the other party so that everyone focuses on the issue at hand instead of a battle between "sides".

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