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The negotiations are a fact of our daily lives. Every day we all negotiate over something, people negotiate even when they have no idea that they are doing that. Negotiations are the principal means to receive from others what you want. This shuttle interrelation is intended to reach an agreement when you and the other side have some matching or conflicting interests.

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Although negotiations occur every day, it is not easy to lead them properly. Standard negotiating strategy often leaves people feeling frustration, exhaustion or alienation, or all of the above. People face a dilemma. They see only two possibilities of negotiation - be pliable or rigid. Now, after reading Getting to Yes, I know it is the wrong strategy. But I did not know it when my mum asked me to clean our house.

Getting to Yes Book Report Example

At the very beginning, I took a tough stance. I instantly said, “No!” and quickly came up with a lot of excuses, saying, “I’m not a housemaid” and “If you want me to clean the house, buy me a new mobile”. But eventually, it took a lot of time, I did not reach anything and caused the same harsh reaction, which exhausted my mum and me, and spoiled my relationship with her. My mum tried to make the concession asking to clean only the living room. But I stood my ground, which made my mum say, “If you don’t clean it, you will lose your pocket money”. The more I stood my ground, the harder my mum stood her ground. I made only a small concession saying, “If not a mobile, then something else, but I won’t clean without reward”. This concession was so insignificant that it was necessary only for the continuation of negotiations. And all this, in general, prevented the rapid achievement of an agreement.

My method of negotiating failed. Now I know that the right method was to lead principled negotiation. We had to distance ourselves from the problem, to work side by side and deal with the problem. I had to think about mutually beneficial options. We also had to concentrate on interests not on positions. I had to insist on using objective criteria (Ury, Fisher and Patton). If I had adhered to these rules, I would have saved our time, energy, relationship, and solved the problem.

Chapters 2: Separate the people from the problem

It is important to relate to people as to human beings and to separate them from the problem. When I was arguing with my mum, I thought about the dispute and did not think about what I was saying at all, that my words probably offended her as a person. For example, my words “I’m not a housemaid, clean yourself!” offended her because they implied that everybody thought that she was the housemaid . I had to think that she is a human first. We dealt with each other, were becoming personal. I was saying, “I clean the house two times per week. I’m fed up!”, and mum was saying, “I clean the house every day and do everything for you”.

I did not have to make conclusions about mum’s intentions based on my fears. I saw cleaning in the house as a day wasted, but, in fact, I only had to vacuum.

Besides, I . was concentrated on the result. I did not think about our relations with the closest person on the Earth. In human relations there are three main categories: perceptions, emotions, communication (Ury, Fisher and Patton). I made mistakes in each.

We both understood the house should be clean, but our perception of that and thoughts were different. I thought I did not have to clean so much and mum needed my help. But we did not know it then and did not find our ways of thinking. I thought that I was a housemaid; mum thought I did not want to clean at all. Moreover, mum said, “There is always a mess in the house”. She made this remark to denote the problem, but I took it as a personal accusation. I concluded unreasonably conclusion that it was me who made a mess.

I had to tell my mum about my emotions instead of holding them inside and resenting. And it was not necessary to respond when mother resented. So it would have been easier to reach an agreement if we would have understood each other.

I was talking about her, not about me. Instead of saying “You force me”, I should have said “It’s too much for me”. We had to work over the problem together trying to find common interests instead of being competitors.

Chapter 3: Focus on interests, not positions

Mum and I were standing up for our positions. I was saying “I do not have to” and mum – “You have to”. And everything ended on this. We did not think about our interests. The main problem of negotiations is not in the conflict positions, but the conflict between the needs, desires, concerns and fears of each party (Ury, Fisher and Patton ). My underlying problem was that a child doesn’t have to spend so much time cleaning and should be encouraged, and my mum needed my help. Such desires and concerns are interests. Interests are the motivation of human behavior; they are the silent driving force behind the din and noise of the position. Position is something that you have decided. Interests make you decide. Dealing with the interests rather than the position makes it possible to achieve solutions. I thought that if mum’s position was different, her interests were different too. But it was not so. We both wanted a clean house , save our relationships, me to have spare time, and we did not want mum to be always exhausted.

By weighing shared and divergent interests, we could resolve the different interests. For example, a good solution would be to clean the house once per week, or when extra cleaning is needed to do this for a bar of chocolate. But I couldn’t discern mum’s interests. I should have stepped into her shoes and asked “why” or “why not”. I also had to express my interests, be firm when talking about my interests, but gentle with her. Moreover, we could better satisfy our interests if we talked about what we wanted to achieve, not what we had. Instead of arguing with the other side about the past, it is better to talk about what you want in the future.

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Chapter 4: Generate options for mutual gain

To have a lot of options is very valuable, but people involved in the negotiations, rarely feel the need for them. In a dispute people usually think they know the right answer, so their approach should prevail. So I answered, I do not have to clean. In our negotiation I admitted four serious errors that prevented the creation of an abundance of options: 1) premature judgment; 2) search for a single answer; 3) the belief that it is impossible "to increase the pie"; 4) the view that "a solution to her problem - her problem" (Ury, Fisher and Patton).

I did not make options, because I had a critical attitude, was ready to seize the disadvantages of any idea, and my judgment prevented my imagination. I feared that by creating options I would reveal the information that would endanger my position in bargaining. For example, if I suggested anything that my mum wouldn’t like, she could put me under house arrest, etc. Alternatively in all suggestions that my mum would like I would clean. I saw it as my task to narrow down the gap between our positions so as not to increase the number of options available. I also considered the situation as an extreme: either I would get what I want or she would. Why did I have to make efforts if everything is clear and I can satisfy her only at my expense? Additionally, my approach implied that my mum had started all that and she needed the solution, so she had to offer suggestions.

Therefore, I did everything wrong. Now I understand that there were so many options. In addition to the options provided above, I could clean the house when it needed vacuuming, for example, or clean when my mum was really exhausted, etc.

Chapter 5: Insist on using objective criteria

We had conflicting interests that cannot just be swept away. I was trying to resolve our conflict through positional bargaining - in other words, discussing what I wanted or did not want to accept. I required significant concessions, just insisting on them: “Either I clean less or I clean for mobile, and that’s all”. It was a mistake. An attempt to reconcile the different interests on the basis of the will entail significant outlay (Ury, Fisher and Patton). The negotiations are unlikely to be effective or friendly if I opposed my will to my mum’s will. Whatever I did, I couldn’t achieve a reasonable agreement that met the objective criteria, without taking into account these criteria.

I hold a foolish position to clean for an expensive reward. It was not objective; it was too much. The objective criteria would be to encourage a child by giving a bar of chocolate or a dollar for extra cleaning. The more consistently I follow the rules of equity, efficiency or scientific criteria in addressing a particular problem, the greater the likelihood that the final package of agreements will be reasonable and fair. The more often I appeal to the precedent and practice, the more chances I have to benefit from past experience (Ury, Fisher and Patton). For example, a good idea would be to appeal to other parents and children and how they dealt with cleaning.

Chapter 6: What if they are more powerful?

My mum had a bigger power. At first, she is my mum, I have to listen to her. Second, she can punish me. Third, she does everything for me, and so on. The best I could do in that situation was to achieve two goals. The first goal was to protect myself from taking such an agreement and I would have to reject. Second is to go for an agreement that would take into account as much as possible of my interests in some of its provisions (Ury, Fisher and Patton).

I created the worst option to which I could go, my "limit", in advance. When the limit is set, it is easier to resist the pressure and temptations of the moment. My limit was not to clean without an expensive reward. I did not agree on any options below this limit. But it was not the right decision. The protection that provides the limit entails high costs. This method limits the ability to use the information received during the negotiations. By definition, the limit is a position that cannot be changed. Deciding in advance that none of my mum’s arguments will force me to raise or lower the limit, I was depriving myself of the opportunity to listen. The limit also suppresses imagination and reduces the incentive to make solutions. Moreover, the limit is usually too high.

The best decision was to create the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). I had had to create the best options and reserve options if I had not reached an agreement, and choose the best from them. For example, to clean for a less expensive reward, etc. Developing and improving my BATNA and also thinking over my mum’s BATNA would have increased my chances against a competitor, as strong as my mum.

Chapter 7: What if they won't play?

During our negotiation, we were criticizing each other all the time. I did not like what my mum was saying, and vice versa. We couldn’t reach an agreement at the end.

There was a way out. The first strategy is to concentrate on the question: what can my mum do? This technique makes it possible to oppose the basic moves of positional discussion such counter-moves that will direct their attention to the quality of the problem. This strategy is called "negotiation jujitsu". There is no need to push back, which I did. By doing that, I turned up in a vicious cycle of attack and defense and spent a lot of time and energy on futile attempts to put pressure on others or come out of this circle. To break that circle, it is important not to react, instead of providing back pressure, to dodge and point at the problem, as it is done in jujitsu. I had to search for interests behind my mum’s position, identify and discuss them. Instead of asking to accept or reject my idea, I had to ask what mum thought was wrong, what she would do in my place. Additionally, a good idea would be to make a pause after asking a question. Mum would feel compelled to get out of the silence by answering to my question or putting forward a new proposal. She could do the same towards me.

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The second strategy, if nothing helps, is to refer to the help of a third party, e.g. father. But he does not have to find out our positions. He has to separate the process of making options from decision-making process, reduce the number of decisions necessary to reach an agreement, and help us understand exactly what we will receive after solving the problem and use one text procedure. For example, he could start from finding out not what I want, but why I was against cleaning, and then would make suggestions.

Chapter 8: What if they use dirty tricks?

There are some tactics and cunning by which people can gain advantage in negotiations. I used several of them. When my mother realized that I had applied the tactic tricks, she started to return fire. It is a standard reaction, but the wrong one. She should have brought the matter up for discussion, cast doubt on the legality and desirability of its application, to negotiate in this occasion. This could have stopped me from using tricks.

I used false facts lying that I had been cleaning all the time, etc. It would have been reasonable not to attack me for using such tricks, as my mum did because I stood up for a defensive position. She had to separate me from the problem and transform the process of negotiation. The desire to set a lesson does not have to distract from the actual negotiation.

I used threats that only made my mum use them too. I should not have done that. I should have used warning instead. For example, I should have said, “Neither of us wants to spoil our relations, so maybe we will stop” instead of “If you don’t stop, I won’t talk to you”. And neither of us should react to them.

I used extreme requirements. At the beginning, I set a high price for my cleaning. But it was rejected. The right way was to raise the question of fairness of using this tactic.

Personal Summary

  • Do not lead positional bargaining, lead principled negotiation
  • The dispute over the position leads to unreasonable agreements
  • Positional bargaining is ineffective and prolongs negotiation
  • There is an alternative: separate people from the problem, concentrate on interests, not on positions, think about win-win options, insist on using objective criteria
  • Participant of negotiations is primarily a person
  • The relationship is usually linked with the problem
  • With positional bargaining, there are contradictions between existing problems and relations of negotiators
  • Separate the relationship from the merits of the case; deal directly with "human factor."
  • Put yourself in their place
  • Do not draw conclusions about the people’s intentions, based on your own fears
  • Discuss each other’s perceptions
  • First of all, be aware of your own and their feelings
  • Let the other side "let off steam."
  • Do not react to emotional displays
  • Speak about yourself, not about them
  • In order to achieve a reasonable solution, it is necessary to reconcile interests, not positions
  • Behind opposing positions along with the contradictions there are shared and acceptable interests
  • Talk about interests
  • There is nothing more harmful to making options than the critical spirit when you are ready to seize the disadvantages of any idea. The judgment prevents the imagination.
  • Make more options
  • Decisions made on the strong-willed basis are costly
  • Use objective criteria and fair standards
  • Think thoroughly and be open to argument
  • Never succumb to the pressure
  • Create your BATNA, develop it, and think over the other’s BATNA
  • Use negotiation jujitsu, do not push back, and think about interests
  • Encourage criticism and advice
  • Ask questions and make a pause
  • If the other party uses tricks, just bring the matter up for discussion, cast doubt on the legality and desirability of its application, negotiate in this occasion

Closing Remarks

Negotiations are what we encounter and do every day. The majority of people do not know how to lead right negotiation, that is why they usually do not get what they want or get this by spoiling relations. I am one of them. Therefore, Getting to Yes was really interesting and useful for me. It helped me to understand how to lead negotiation, and understand what I did wrong. The most important thing that I have learnt is to talk about interests, not about positions. It is also important to generate options for mutual gain, use objective criteria, and separate people from the problem. So, next time I will be ready and the process will go better and faster. Moreover, the book is interesting and easy to read. Everything is clearly explained and I have read the book in one breath.

The assignment is clear and reveals all aspects of the book. It helps to create the page with critical points of this book that will be useful in future negotiations in advance. But maybe, it would be better to present it in the PowerPoint to distinctly reveal main aspects so as not to pour a lot of water.

My suggestion for students next semester is to read the entire book, not an abridged version. It will help to write an assignment correctly and understand the process of negotiation better; thus they will learn a lot of things that will be useful to them throughout their lives.

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