Getting to Yes is the most sold book ever on how to negotiate. And why does negotiation skills matter to you? Because in the words of FBI negotiator Chris Voss, everything is a negotiation. Your job salary, your perception at work, your conversation with your kids, your interactions with others. While that’s debatable, I have found a lot of value in improving my negotiation skills because one conversation with negotiating salary or rent can save you or earn you a lot more money. And you often run into more debates and moments when you need persuasion or finding harmony between opposing parties than you think.
Here are my book summary notes for Getting to Yes, a book that has stood the test of time:
Most people think you have to be very hard or soft in a negotiation, but there’s a middle ground that is most effective.
Seek to find out people’s interests. Most people just focus on their positions. But through their interest, you can discover new angles that both parties would be OK with. The book uses a few examples. There’s one story where one person wants a window open to let fresh air in while the other wants the window closed to prevent a draft from blowing in. Well, most people would just focus on the position, which is to open or close the window; the smart negotiator would ask for the interest sand through that, they would discover that there’s a solution that satisfies both parties. Simply open the window in another room.
That way, one person doesn’t feel the draft and the other person gets fresh air. Another example was given from the real world. A bunch of farmers were being forced to abandon their fields because a Noyle company found oil underneath and they owned the land and could exert that if they found oil. The farmers refused to leave and there’s a big fight. This would’ve ended badly except that one smart negotiator asked what both parties wanted. It turns out the farmers wanted to harvester crops in a few couple months. Which represented their whole livelihood. And the oil company didn’t need oil yet for A couple years since it took planning to prepare the land for oil. Because of that, the negotiator was able to let the farmer stay on the land for couple months to harvest their crops, which kept everyone happy. Plus, they needed workers and they needed to employ the farmers anyways, so we kept the relationship fresh.
You may have to deal with tricky negotiation tactics, like a false fact. Separate the problem from the person. Do your due diligence and verify facts. It’s just part of the process. Don’t take attacks personally.
There’s also a bunch of other sneaky tactics, such as good guy, bad guy routine, using threats, avoiding eye contact, bringing up your lower status by delaying meetings, calling out your disheveled appearance or fashion. The way to beat these is to be aware of them and recognize them. For the good guy bad guy routine, you respond to each person the same way: I appreciate it but I want to know if this is a fair price.
Some people will just flat out refused to negotiate. First, recognize this as a possible negotiation tactic. Then, find out why they don’t want to negotiate. Don’t attack them, but talk to the relevant parties that you can to identify the reason why they won’t negotiate.
You can throw in a final small gesture any form of value that the other party would appreciate. Sometimes, just closes the deal when both of you are very far along and do some final uncertainty. Make sure you make it clear that this is the final good gesture.
You can start an experiment with some of these tactics by focusing on your strengths and starting small.
Reframing is a powerful tactic.
Reconciling interests rather than positions works because there’s usually various ways to get a position to match and resolve. Deals happen because people have different interests. One person may prefer the $50 over the shoes whereas the other person prefers the shoes over the $50.
It’s always better to get to know someone as a friend or someone you know rather than a stranger. The best way to do this is before the negotiations start. Get to know how they are as a person. Get to know their hobbies and ins and outs. Arrive to the negotiation early to chat with them or schedule informal get together’s or stay after the end of the official negotiations.
No matter how many people are involved, the real negotiations always happen when there’s only two people in the room.
Emphasizing the consequences if they do take a decision is far better than the consequences of if they don’t. Focusing on the positive benefits beats focusing on threats.
Develop your BATNA, your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Chances are most negotiations have multiple factors on the table, not just one, including an alternative option to get a deal done without a negotiation. You have to consider that. Not considering a BATNA is like negotiating with your eyes closed. If you don’t know what choices you have if the negotiation doesn’t go through, you’re not negotiating well. You need to know, for example, what other houses are on the market if you can’t close this one and how much they sell for. If you have a better alternative and they don’t know about it, it’s in your best interest to let them know. But if you think the other alternatives are weaker, then disclosing it will weaken your position.
Negotiating of rational reasons is always better than negotiating or refusing to confirm a deal based on irrational reasons. Have reasons why your holding back that make sense.
Focus on interests, not position. We often assume that people naturally have conflicting opposing interest because they have a different position. But in fact, you often find that there’s a lot more interest out there, some of which are not conflicting, why some are. One example of a hidden interest that fails to get acknowledged is the negotiations between the US and Mexico over gas. Since the Mexicans had no other prospective buyers, the US thought that the negotiation was purely on price. However, the Mexicans wanted to be treated with respect as a second interest. Since this was an acknowledge, a lead to issues of disrespect which ultimately led to the Mexicans refusing to sell the oil.
When you say how you feel, it’s harder to dispute or argue with it because it’s just how you feel.
You shouldn’t treat negotiations like a debate. If we were to use a courtroom analogy, a good negotiation is as if you and the other party are two judges trying to decide on how to rule the case. Therefore, you should be adversarial, name-calling, or be vicious to the other party because you want to do that when trying to decide on a decision in court with a fellow judge.
With judgment until you try out the other person’s point of you. Perspectives on the same situation can be different. You may see a beautiful glass self vodka on the table while your wife sees a glass that is leaving a stain on the table.
Consider what the biggest critics would say if someone
You can’t expect negotiations to solve every issue. In the case with the other party has a lot more resources or value, you can expect to, say get a expensive antique vases that were thousands of dollars for $100. When negotiation can do is protect you and maximize the resources that you do have.
Negotiate from a place of considering the other party is also trying to find out what is fair and get a fair result. Through that mindset, you can ask questions like, “how did you come to this price? What reasoning did you use to get to this price?” You are genuinely coming at it from the angle of trying to know the framework that they got to a price and trying to get to a fair price for both parties. that way, you are examining the reasoning that they got to the price to see if there are flaws there instead of attacking the person.
If someone attacked you dont match it with an attack as well. Better to be like in judo jujitsu use the force against them. Think of creative solutions, reflect, and think of how to improve it.
Successful negotiations and deals happen because there is a difference in beliefs. Beliefs fuel different perspectives of a trait. One person may believe a stock will go down while the other believes it will go up and because of these different beliefs, they both find value in a trade. One person may find more value in the money while the other person finds more value in a pair of shoes so they make the deal to exchange the shoes for money.
Questions are better than statements. Questions cant be attacked. Questions dont incite fights. Questions pose answers. Dont feel uncomfortable with silence. Just wait for a sufficient answer. Pause. Dont fill the silence with another question or statement. Some of your most effective negotiation will be during your silence.
“Please correct me if I am wrong” Is a great phrase to diffuse potential arguments by focusing on the facts and acknowledging you may be wrong.
When someone lies or tells a false statement, take the person away from the problem. It should be your due diligence to check their facts. Just like you would check if someone actually has the money in their bank account if they’re buying a house.
Use independent standards to get the best deal for you. If someone is using standards that are inaccurate because of the region or time the standards were collected, you want to point that out. Inflation or different geographic job markets are an example of that.
Getting more than you deem is fear is not always the right move. Where all the pros and cons. What impact will this have on your future relationship? How will you feel morally afterwards? Do they really need this money for something important to their life? What do you think is fair and beyond fair?
What do you do if the other person isn’t negotiating rationally? First off, you should negotiate and use some logic even if the other party is in. Second, question if they really are not behaving logically. In their eyes, they may be logical.
The more you can adapt to their way of thinking, the better. Are they casual or informal? Do they have a fast or slow pacing? Do they prefer meeting publicly or privately? Are they rigid or flexible?
Pay attention to their culture but don’t stereotype off assumptions.
Make sure to add a personal touch with email or text. It’s good to add a personal touch in such channels. People tend to be more assertive when they’re on the phone versus in person.
Be optimistic within reason. It pays off.
One of the greatest things that you can do is reframe with questions and statements to change the focus to interests, options, and standards. That way, you move from positional bargaining to principled negotiation.
Getting time to talk to a person at a lunch table or for small talk is a good way to diffuse a hostile situation. An apology is one of the least costly and best way to diffuse a situation even if you don’t admit to responsibility personally.
It’s easy to forget about or overlook acknowledging basic human needs. But it’s important not to do this. Often times, negotiations concern multiple interests, not just one. And some of those interest converge with getting basic human needs met. These needs include a sense of belonging, economic well-being, security, respect, safety.
If you want someone to appreciate your interest, show appreciation and understanding of theirs. You can repeat their interest so they know you understand them. You can ask if you missed any interests.