Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Since its original publication nearly thirty years ago, Getting to Yes has helped millions of people learn a better way to negotiate. One of the primary business texts of the modern era, it is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that deals with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution. Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. Thoroughly updated and revised, it offers readers a straight- forward, universally applicable method for negotiating personal and professional disputes without getting angry-or getting taken.


I thought I was a pretty good negotiator. Good, not great. But sufficient. Until I read this book. Boy, do I have a lot to work on!

I feel like Getting to Yes will be a book I come back to many times. I found myself reading a section and then stopping and rereading it because the concepts felt so foreign I had to take extra time to process them.

The major premise of this book is that the way most people negotiate is flawed. Most of us negotiate in one of two ways: by driving an overly hard bargain to get as much as you can from the other person for the sake of “winning” or negotiating too complacently. The book calls this time of negotiating “positional bargaining”.

Getting to Yes posits that there’s a third way to negotiate that people can learn and use to find outcomes that leave both parties feeling mutually satisfied. No particular name is given to this type of negotiation, but it has four main components:

  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

This book was pretty eye-opening to me and it made me think of the negotiation styles of people I know well and people in power and it did made me realize that the best negotiators I could think of were using the tactics in Getting to Yes.

This isn’t a very long book, but it’s definitely a must-read even if you’re not in a sales or negotiation profession. The tips in here are applicable to all kinds of problems.


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