Rebirth of Reason

Favorite EditSanction this itemGetting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Insist on principles.  Focus on interests. Use objective criteria.  Separate people from the problem.  Invent options for mutual gain.  Be open to reason, but closed to threats.  When negotiation is impossible, continue to negotiate.

Customer: How much do you want for this brass urn?
Shopkeeper: That is a beautiful antique, isn't it.  I could let it go for $75.
Customer: Oh, come on.  It's dented. I'll give you $15.

... and so it goes... for antiques... real estate... cars... nations at war...  screws, nuts, bolts, widgets,...  wages, prices, salaries, benefits...  vacations, weekends, movies, shows, dinners,...  And if you don't like it, the relationship is over, finished, we're through forever... which is fine with me, too, because I never negotiate with evil people like you ...

Successful negotiating gets you that to which you are entitled, with the least amount of trouble, and at the greatest residual benefit for an ongoing relationship.
Negotiation is not a debate, nor is it a trial. You are not trying to convince some third party.  The person you are trying to persuade is seated at the table with you.
In fact, the authors recommend physically sitting on the same side of the table, and jointly viewing the problem (contract, object, proposal).
You cannot communicate effectively with an abstraction like "Houston" or "the University of California."  Instead of trying to get "the insurance company" to agree, focus on making it easier for one person -- this insurance adjustor -- to make a recommendation.
Of course, the other side may not be as sophisticated.  They may attempt to argue positions.  They may use deceit -- from phony facts ("only driven by a little old lady") to ambiguous authority ("I'll have to take this back to the Board") to psychological warfare (insulting you or playing good cop bad cop).  Nonetheless, you stand a much better chance of getting what you want if you insist on principles, objective criteria, and options for mutual gain, while refusing to identify people with the problem.
Don't be a victim.  If the rules for negotiating seem calculated to be unfair, then negotiate the rules themselves.  "Would it be OK if from now on, we take turns pouring coffee on each other?"  Can we both sit with the sun in our eyes?  Do you have a preferred way for me to leak details of our talks to the press? 
Usually, just identifying problems will make them go away.  It is easier to defend a principle than it is to defend an unprincipled action. 

The trust accounts advisor for Heritage Auctions recommended this book at the Educational Forum of the 50th Anniversary Michigan State Numismatic Society convention.  Numismatics is a nearly perfect free market in which people buy and sell money as a hobby.  Capitalism does not get any better than that. Yet, reading this book, I saw myself in my role as a peace officer, negotiating with terrorists in a hostage crisis.  Never negotiate with terrorists, you say?  Well, the authors grant that high level diplomatic recognition of kidnappers will tend to encourage more of the same, just as Chamberlain lost Europe to Hitler at Munich.  Nevertheless, in crisis after crisis, operational negotiation has resulted in lives saved and tragedy shunted, --- and a proper negotiation based on principle and objective standards (rather than threats based on positions) might have avoided World War II.
Added by Michael E. Marotta
on 1/03/2007, 8:47am

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