Getting To Yes

Getting To Yes – Book Review

By: Roger Fisher


Whether in business deals, legal matters, or parenting, negotiation is a constant in daily life. “Getting To Yes” introduces principled negotiation, developed at the Harvard Negotiation Project, as an effective approach to enhance negotiation skills.

The Problem – Negotiations Over Positions:

Defining successful negotiation criteria, the article critiques the common practice of arguing over positions and the drawbacks of soft and hard negotiation approaches, urging the adoption of principled negotiation.

Soft vs. Hard Negotiators:

Soft negotiators avoid conflict, while hard negotiators aim to win at any cost, often leading to suboptimal results. The article emphasizes the need to steer clear of both approaches.

Issues with Positional Bargaining:

Positional bargaining results in unwise outcomes, inefficiency, and strained relationships. Principled negotiation is presented as a superior alternative.

Principled Negotiation – Four Basic Propositions:

Principled negotiation involves four key propositions: separating people from the problem, focusing on interests, inventing mutual gain options, and insisting on objective standards. The timing of these elements across negotiation stages is highlighted.

Separate the People from the Problem:

Recognizing the human aspect, the article explores addressing perceptions, emotions, and communication, aiming to untangle relationships from negotiation substance.

– **Perception**

– **Emotion**

– **Communication**

Focus on Interests, Not Positions:

Emphasizing the importance of understanding each side’s interests, the article advocates using the question “why” to uncover underlying issues.

– **Using “Why”**

– **Talking About Interests**

– **Concrete and Flexible Approach**

Invent Options for Mutual Gain:

Overcoming challenges like premature judgment, the article suggests separating inventing from deciding, broadening options, and searching for mutual gains.

– **Challenges in Creating Options**

– **Solutions to Challenges**

Insist on Using Objective Criteria:

Advocating for objective criteria, the article recommends basing decisions on standards like market value or professional norms to prevent breakdowns.


Acknowledging the inherent difficulty of negotiations due to conflict aversion, the article encourages adopting principled negotiation in all aspects of life for better outcomes and improved relationships. The application of principled negotiation is presented as a pathway to achieving personal satisfaction and success.

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