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Reader's Review, February 2015


By John D. Baker



Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

By Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton
240p Penguin Books (Revised), 2011
Paperback (USA) $16.00



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Since its first publication in 1981, Getting to Yes has sold over 5 Million copies and continues to enlarge its readership. Unquestionably, Getting to Yes has established itself as one of the most outstanding works in negotiation literature.


Additionally, the book's three authors have distinguished themselves by being the co-founders of the Harvard Program on Negotiation in 1979. This program is designed to advance the training and research in the field of negotiation. Individually and together, the three men have created a remarkable achievement in their field.


The first of these contributors is Roger Fisher, an expert in negotiation and conflict management, Mr. Fisher received a B.A. and a law degree from Harvard University before going on to serve the university as the Samuel Williston Professor of Law (emeritus) and as the Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project.


With extensive trial experience in private practice, Mr. Fisher went on to work in international negotiation. He participated in such major efforts as the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, the Iran hostage crisis, the end of apartheid and the creation of the new constitution for South Africa. Mr. Fisher is the author of many works on negotiation.


William Ury, the second of the authors, holds a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University with a specialty in social anthropology. He has over 30 years of experience as an advisor and conflict mediator in corporate mergers, strikes and Middle-East conflict management. Dr. Ury is a co-founder with Jimmy Carter of the International Negotiation Network seeking to end civil wars. Currently, Dr. Ury is a Senior Fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project and a major contributor to the literature of negotiation.


Bruce Patton is also a co-founder of the Harvard Negotiation Project and has served as the Thaddeus R. Beal Lecturer on Law at Harvard for over fifteen years. Mr. Patton is the founder of Vantage Partners, LLC, specializing in international consulting. Bruce Patton holds both an undergraduate degree and a law degree from Harvard and has written extensively in the field of negotiation.


Having briefly introduced the authors of Getting to Yes, let me briefly remind you of some of the concepts they develop in their work. The first is that of a new negotiation approach they term "principled negotiation" in which the parties to a negotiation seek to decide issues on their merits rather than by haggling, tricks or posturing. The goal is efficiency, wise agreements and preservation of the relationship between the parties. From this simple tree, sprout such familiar concepts as expanding the "fixed pie", using objective standards, separating people from the problem, and focusing on the parties working together. The list, as you will recall, turns negotiating on its head and lays the foundation for the move from positional negotiating to win-win negotiations.


There is much of importance in this thin book. If you have missed this key work, I strongly encourage that you do so. If you have read this work already, I encourage you to read it again. Getting to Yes is a true classic in the literature of negotiation.


Highly recommended

John D. Baker, Ph.D.
Editor


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The Negotiator Magazine  February 2015 Copyright © 2015 The Negotiator Magazine