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Exploding Creativity

May 28th, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Getting To Yes Trilogy Book Reviews

Continuing copying my book reviews from my LinkedIn Amazon widget to my blog. I’ve referenced Getting To Yes in Episode 7: Brainstorming and referenced The Power of a Positive No in Episode 10: The Dark Side of Creativity.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by William L. Ury, Roger Fisher, Bruce M. Patton

Excellent book on negotiating. Ury has written two other books since, which he advises to read in reverse order, starting with “The Power of a Positive No”, then “Getting Past No”, and finally “Getting To Yes”. But you can’t go wrong reading this first in any case.

Here’s an excerpted essay about this book I wrote for a UCSD Course on Sales:

Getting To Yes is a book on a method of negotiating that the authors call “principled negotiation.” It is a method they describe as being soft on people, but hard on the problem (the issue(s) being negotiated). This method is obviously appropriate for formal negotiations, but also for conflict resolution in general, as well as being directly applicable in sales situations other than formal negotiations; it can be used when negotiating for a raise, in determining the price of a house, in deciding where to go to dinner with your spouse, or in deciding a nuclear arms treaty. The authors argue that if agreement is possible, then this method will more likely produce an agreement that meets the legitimate interests of both sides to as great an extent as possible, in as an efficient a way as possible, while improving, or at least not damaging, the relationship between both sides.

The method consists of four propositions:

1. Separate the People from the Problem. This means dealing with “people problems” directly and separately from the negotiation issues so as to help build a relationship based on trust, understanding, respect, and friendship, which will help in future dealings. One skill needed here is emotional intelligence: understand the other side’s point of view, don’t assume the worst from or about them, don’t blame them for your problem (even if justified), recognize and deal appropriately with your and the other’s emotions, and make your proposals consistent with their values. Another important skill here is communication: listen actively and acknowledge what is being said, speak to be understood, and speak for a purpose (some things are better left unsaid).

2. Focus on Interests, Not on Positions. Interests are a side’s needs, desires, concerns, and fears, whereas a position is something decided upon to meet the interests. Uncover the other side’s interests by being empathetic and asking questions. Discuss your interests so the other side understands their importance and legitimacy, and acknowledge their interests.

3. Invent Options for Mutual Gain. This is a creative process where various options are thought of to satisfy both sides’ interests. One must be careful here to not jump to a premature judgment and to not narrow down the options — ”the idea is to first brainstorm (with or without the other side) to create as many options as possible in order to “expand the pie,” and then afterwards make a decision. The end result of this step is to present the other side with an option that meets their (and your) interests such that it makes their decision easy.

4. Insist on using Objective Criteria. When faced with clear conflicting interests, in order to produce wise agreements amicably and efficiently, this part of the method says to insist on using independent objective criteria to decide between different options or a compromise, as opposed to deciding based on the will of the sides. There are many different standards that can be used, like tradition, reciprocity, and professional standards, so the key is to decide, based on the issue, which one(s) apply. Even deciding based on a coin toss may be a fair way to decide an issue when no other fair way exists.

The rest of the book discusses developing your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Alternative (BATNA), how to handle the other side if they won’t behave in a principled manner, and other miscellaneous issues in principled negotiation.

The book emphasizes the importance of preparation, which applies whether one is preparing for a negotiation or a sales call. In one’s preparations, they definitely need to determine what their interests are, they need to try to determine what the other side’s interests are, and with that information invent as many options as possible and determine which objective criteria and/or processes can be used. And perhaps the most important thing one can do in preparation is to develop their BATNA, especially if the other side has more power.

Getting Past No, by by William Ury

Another excellent book on negotiating. Ury has written two other books, which he advises to read in reverse order, starting with “The Power of a Positive No”, then “Getting Past No”, and finally “Getting To Yes”. I recommend all three.

Getting Past No discusses how to deal with difficult situations and difficult people by controlling your own emotions and handling the other side’s negative emotions, positional behavior, dissatisfactions, and power.

Of course, the first thing you’ll want to do before negotiating with another is to ”understand your interests, the other side’s interests, invent options for mutual gains, figure out which fair standards can apply to resolve issues, and know and develop your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (your walk-away alternative).

The Power of a Positive No: Save The Deal Save The Relationship and Still Say No, by William Ury

Another excellent book on negotiating. Ury has written two other books, which he advises to read in the order of this book, then “Getting Past No”, and finally “Getting To Yes”. I recommend all three.

The Power of a Positive No discusses a framework for saying No in a way that’s respectful to the other side and that can maintain, if not improve, your relationship with the other side. This framework involves first understanding what your own core values, needs, and interests are; saying No to the other side in a positive manner; and then offering a suggestion for a more positive behavior or negotiating a deal that satisfies both sides’ interests.

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