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on June 30, 2004
I must confess I ordered and read this book because my new boss recommended it. Well, now that we have unpacked all the boxes from our move to take this job - I find we have about 5 copies of this book. This book is GREAT! This is not a new book but has been read by millions of people and is now a classic. The first edition came out in 1981 and the second edition 10 years later. The newest edition benefits from many updates and has an additional chapter (#10) with common questions (and answers) that people have commonly asked about Getting to Yes. This new chapter really helps the reader to understand the method better - in fact I can't imagine the book without it. One of the best things that authors Fisher, Ury and Patton do in this popular book do is give the reader a practical framework for developing better relationships that lead to better outcomes in life and work. The ideas are helpful in getting along with family as well as in the workplace. In many cases their methods will sound like things you already knew and have practiced in some of the more successful moments in your life. However, the book puts it all in perspective and gives you the complete picture to know why it works better when you focus on helping the other person get what they want so you can, too. After reading Getting to Yes you will be more prepared to negotiate more effectively in every type of situation. This book helped me decide I like the new boss, too!
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on January 8, 2004
It's amazing to me that this book was written over twenty years ago, but is still so relevant. Negotiation is a passion of mine, and I have read this book multiple times because the ideas presented in it are the basis for almost any book that has been written on negotiation since its publication. Plus, it is a quick read that almost anyone can understand.
This book revolutionized negotiation with its claim that you would be better off if the person that you were negotiating with also read this book. Rather than focusing on tricks and ways to manipulate the other side, it shows you how to set up a cooperative, win-win negotiation.
Such terms as win-win negotiation, cooperative problem solving, BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement), and negotiation jujitsu might sound trite because they are used so frequently in other negotiation texts. However, I'm willing to look past that since these terms originated here.
In multiple negotiations--big and small--I have used the process outlined in this book (1. "separate the people from the problem", 2. "focus on interests, not positions", 3. "invent options for mutual gain", 4. "insist on using objective criteria") to produce successful results.
Your ability to negotiate affects so many parts of your life (from how much money you make to how you resolve conflicts with your spouse) that it is worth investing in this book and in becoming a better negotiator.
While (because the book is a tad idealistic) I do not recommend making this the only book that you read on negotiation, I highly recommend it as one of the books to read. I'd also recommend checking out "Getting Past No" by Bill Ury, which is the follow-on to this and discusses how to handle situations in which the other side doesn't want to cooperate.
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on November 25, 2011
Getting to the Yes was a very good read, to say the least. The authors offer straight to the point, no nonsense advice on how negotiate more effectively. When one talks about negotiation, what comes to your mind? If you are buy something - do you make a superficially low offer, and then slowly add more and more until it reached the price you were originally ready to pay? If you are selling - do you start off by asking for an exceedingly high price, and then, through negotiation, slowly cut the price down to to show your goodwill? Have you ever wondered if you were selling too cheap / buying too expensive? Do you believe that negotiation is all about two parties stating their positions, and then trying to meet each other somewhere in the middle?

If you answered yes to one of those questions, this book is for you. Chances are, if you do this while negotiating, others also know the trick, and therefore, there is no clear advantage for either side, and the result may be mediocre for both at best. The author bring up an example of two children fighting for an orange. At the end, the orange is cut in half and each child gets half - only to realize that one child only wanted the peel for baking, and the other child only wanted the meat.

What the authors propose is a "principled" approach to negotiation, that is, the negotiators should always find out what the other party wants at their core (the principle behind their offer/demands) - because offers and proposals are merely expressions of deeper desires. In the example above, wanting the orange was merely a representation of what each child wanted, and had it been made clear, both would have gained much more. The underlying desires for a homeowner to ask for more money may be that he/she recently renovated the house - so they might see that as extra value that needs to be accounted for.

The beauty of this book, is that all this advice applies to almost every situations, not just buy/sell transactions. The authors confess that what they offer in common sense, but perhaps it is forgotten common sense. This is a very good books for anyone to read, not just negotiators.
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on April 20, 2008
When it comes to negotiation, people are often confronted with though bargaining that destroys relationships. Getting to Yes offers people a new way of looking at negotiation and enables negotiators to reach a mutual profitable agreement without hard feelings.

The Harvard Negotiation Project, which this book is based on, came to understand basic principles that should guide every dispute. Thus, it is important to focus on the issue at hand, not the people involved in it or the position one defends. Do not hesitate to stay creative and develop new solutions to the problem. Often, both parties don't realize all opportunities available and "leave money on the table", in the authors' words. Finally, use objective criteria to decide on a solution. The authors also explain how to negotiate with people in a stronger position than you are.

The authors' style is simple and easy to understand. Nicely divided into subsections, every chapter covers a particular principle. Additional questions asked following the first edition were annexed at the end of the original text in this version.

Overall, this book offers nothing new, but reminds the reader of techniques that can ease any negotiation.
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on January 11, 2004
This book provides many practical examples on the art of negotiation. The author begins by encapsuling a negotiation into
a tri-parte process:
o It should produce a wise agreement if such a thing is possible
o It should be efficient.
o It should not damage the relationship between the parties.
A successful negotiation will meet the underlying concerns of the
parties. There are four points to a successful negotiation:
o Separate the people from the problem.
o Focus on interests and not positions.
o Generate a variety of possibilities.
o Insist that the result be based on an objective standard.
In addition, a good negotiation will present the various
options fairly. The parties should develop objective
criteria and fair procedures. When the other side attacks,
consider it as an option and improve upon it. Remember that
affirmative answers generate resistence and questions elicit
answers (thoughtful or otherwise). The essence of a principled
negotiation lays the foundation for a discussion of facts and
basic principles.
This work is a gold mine of advice on the art of negotiation.
It will help you to navigate through difficult situations artfully
while deflecting as much resistence as possible. This book will help you because it points out the
pitfalls of negotiations between parties; namely, adherence
to rigid positions, unwillingless to hear the other side and
attacks on people. The objective of a good negotiation is to
produce a fair result and to set forth rational guidelines
and rule structures for the parties to follow. This work
teaches contrary to the way people typically behave. As such,
it provides readers with scenarios that may not be in their
domain of everyday experience.
The author emphasizes the futility of adherence to rigid
positions without exploring alternatives and agreeing on
fair rule structures to evaluate the issues presented.
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on January 9, 2004
This is a basic book on how to resolve things as peacefully as possible. It is not the sort of advanced text you'd expect if you are studying to become a professional mediator, but is rather aimed at people who could benefit from an introduction to (or review of) basic negotiation skills.
Some of these things are the sort of common sense people frequently think of (alas!) in hindsight - for instance, it talks about your 'best alternative to a negotiated solution'(before you demand that raise, ask yourself: how hard would it be for me to find a new job? Then: how hard would it be for my boss to replace me?) and how to set expectations against an objective standard - your position is much stronger if you are arguing based on the 'going rate', the usual practice, or some other outside measurement that an unbiased observer might consider a fair and reasonable expectation.
If you are divorcing, have a conflict with your landlord or neighbor, or want to get a better deal from your public schools with regards to your highly gifted or learning disabled child, it would definately pay off to read this book.
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on March 24, 2003
This is the first book I ever read on negotiating, and at the time I found it extremely good. However, since then, I have read both Shell's "Bargaining for Advantage" and Cialdini's "Influence", and found those two books immensely better than Getting to Yes, for a few different reasons.
Number of stories - in Getting to Yes, the authors do not offer enough stories to burn the concepts into the reader's mind. I personally think stories are the best way to communicate something like negotiating.
Actual psychological concepts explained - Getting to Yes is a summary of findings, and it never explains why certain things work. Without a deep understanding, it is not clear when the concepts work and when they don't. Especially in Influence, you really get to understand how to persuade someone by remembering the core psych concepts.
If you are just looking for a quick intro to negotiating, this is a decent book. If you would like to actually understand people and how to influence them, this is too basic.
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on January 2, 2003
Almost everyone can benefit from improved negotiating skills. This 1981 classic, updated in 1991 with new material responding to questions from readers, continues to provide practical guidelines for executives dealing with each other, with superiors and staff, with customers, partners, suppliers, and government regulators. If you have ignored this as a pop book, take a good look at it. This practical, non-academic, and well-illustrated book does not waste the reader's time with filler. The authors explain the problems that arise from bargaining over positions, presenting an alternative approach. Their method revolves around four elements: Separate the people from the problem; focus on interests, not positions; invent options for mutual gain; and insist on using objective criteria. They offer helpful approaches for situations where the other side is more powerful, refuses to play, or uses dirty tricks. The range of situations in which their approach can be applied is almost limitless. Keep this one close at hand to refer to repeatedly until "principled negotiation" becomes ingrained and natural.
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on September 18, 2002
Roger Fisher and William Ury are responsible for breaking new ground on the subject of negotiation with this best seller. They are also co-founders of the Harvard Program on Negotiation ([...] the pre-eminent think tank on negotiation based at Harvard University. Rather than focus on negotiation tactics, this book uses decision making skills and analytical skills to resolve conflict.
Also known as the "Harvard Approach" or the "Harvard Five Step Approach," Getting to Yes provides the reader with a five step approach to negotiation. Step one is to "separate the people from the problem." Put another way, don't get personal when you negotiate. Most books on "win-win" negotiation stress this point, so there is nothing new here. Steps 2 through 5 completely redefined negotiation strategy, however and deserve close attention. Step two is to determine the underlying needs or interests of the parties. The premise for this point is that negotiator's positions in negotiation are rarely consistent with their underlying needs. Step three is to develop options to address these needs. This "solution" section is where the rubber meets the road in negotiation. The goal here is to exploit the differences in each parties underlying needs so you can achieve a "win-win" result. Step four is to determine your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement.) Your BATNA is your deadlock or "walk-away" point. Put simply you will be able to determine when to deadlock if you can determine what your alternatives to negotiation are. If the other negotiator's offer is worse than your best alternative to negotiation, then you should turn down the offer and go with your alternative. This step provides you with an objective, non-emotional approach to making rational decisions during the negotiation process and justifies the price of the book. The last step to to develop "objective criteria" or independant standards to resolve conflict. An objective criteria is a solution that is independent from the control of both persons (such as using the CPI to determine the rate of inflation in a rental agreement, or using a property appraiser to determine the fair market value of property at some point in the future.)
Like all collaborative negotiation books, Getting to Yes is a valuable book IF there is a relatively free flow of information between the parties and if the parties are willing to collaborate. If these conditions exist, you can come up with "win-win" solutions that will stand the test of time. But I wouldn't take this book onto a car lot...or for that matter into any negotiation where the other party won't take a collaborative approach to the negotiation process.
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on March 3, 2002
The authors of Getting to Yes are definitely on the right track but they seem to be relying too much on their intuition in drawing conclusions about the proper way to negotiate. The book would be much better if they could formulate their ideas in terms of game theory. Their approach towards negotiation is certainly correct but it lacks proper theoretical framework. It is not enough just to know that cooperation yields better results than confrontation. Seeking mutual interests may indeed be preferable over playing a hard ball but if a negotiator can't explain this pattern of behavior in terms of a coherent theory then he will remain confined by the limits of his intuition. Intuition is certainly a great thing to have but it is not enough.
Game theory can explain the essence of mutual-gain negotiation but it can also reveal its limitations. I wish the authors could remember the prisoners' dilemma example from their undergraduate economics classes. Then they could have made the book even more valuable then it is.
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