Whether or not we are aware of it, each of us is faced with an abundance of conflict each and every day. From the division of chores within a household, to asking one’s boss for a raise, we’ve all learned the basic skills of negotiation. A national bestseller, Getting to Yes, introduces the method of principled negotiation, a form of alternative dispute resolutions as opposed to the common method of positional bargaining. Within the book, four basic elements of principled negotiation are stressed; separate the people from the problem, focus on interests instead of positions, invest options for mutual gain, and insist on using objective criteria. Following this section of the book are suggestions for problems that may occur and finally a conclusion. In this journal entry I will be taking a closer look at each of the elements, and critically analyse the content; ultimately, I aim to briefly bring forth the pros and cons of Getting to Yes.
Principled negotiation allows disputants to obtain what they are entitled to, while enabling them to be fair, at the same time protecting against those who would take advantage of their fairness . Although the points made are logical and indeed a great approach to certain types of conflict, I found that in some cases the method did not completely come together. More than anything, I found the method altogether was simplistic and for an ideal situation. While going through the four elements, I shall illustrate these points.
The first method of principled negotiation is to separate the people from the problem. Although it seems to be quite a simple process, I found a major question came to mind: “What if the people are the problem?”. Being a teenager, I know that sometimes the only reason for conflict is emotions and feelings. A person feels they have been wronged, the other disagrees, and separating the people from the problem becomes virtually impossible. Getting to Yes briefly proposes some solutions to emotion, such as recognizing both side’s emotions, making emotions explicit and acknowledging them as legitimate, allowing the other side to let off steam, not reacting to emotional outbursts, and using symbolic gestures . Again, I found these guidelines to be oversimplified and completely void of the fact that human’s are inapt to simply putting their feelings aside. Also...
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...Although this theory is very rational and scholarly it again asks for a very ideal situation of fairness where the chances of both disputants coming to these terms seems unattainable. Also, it is quite obvious that what one sees as fair, another may not. All the same, the theory by itself provides great principles for negotiation that if followed honestly by both parties would most likely lead to a satisfactory agreement.
In conclusion, the theory of principled negotiation is very impressive, although it at times seems to be simplistic and meant for an ideal world. Nevertheless, it allows all sides of the conflict to be examined through the broadening of options. It allows disputants to maintain any relationship that they had before the conflict and negotiation. Overall, principled negotiation is meant to lead to satisfactory results for both sides, creating a win-win situation for all.
Colti, Laurie S. Conflict Diagnosis and Alternative Dispute Resolution. New Jersey,
USA.: Pearson Education, 2004.
Fisher, Roger, William Ury, and Bruce Patton. Getting to Yes: Negotiation Agreement
Without Giving In. New York, USA.: Penguin Books, 1991.
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