getting to yes


“Getting to yes: negotiating agreement without giving in” by Roger Fisher and William Ury, one of the inspiring books for Eduard Beltran in “Good for you, better for me”.
Principled negotiation produces wise agreements amicably and efficiently.
The more you bring standards of fairness, efficiency, or scientific merit to bear on your particular problem, the more likely you are to produce a final package that is wise and fair. The more you and the other side refer to precedent and community practice, the greater your chance of benefiting from past experience. And an agreement consistent with precedent is less vulnerable to attack. If a
lease contains standard terms or if a sales contract conforms to practice in the industry, there is less risk that either negotiator will feel that he was harshly treated or will later try to repudiate the agreement.
A constant battle for dominance threatens a relationship; principled negotiation protects it. It is far easier to deal with people when both of you are discussing objective standards for settling a problem instead of trying to force each other to back down.
Approaching agreement through discussion of objective criteria also reduces the number of commitments that each side must make and then unmake as they move toward agreement. In positional bargaining, negotiators spend much of the time defending their position and attacking the other side’s. Рeople using objective criteria tend to use time more efficiently talking about possible standards and solutions.
Independent standards are even more important to efficiency when more parties are involved. In such cases positional bargaining is difficult at best. It requires coalitions among parties; and the more parties who have agreed on a position, the more difficult it becomes to change that position. Similarly, if each negotiator has a constituency or has to clear a position with a higher authority, the task of adopting positions and then changing them becomes time- consuming and difficult.
An episode during the Law of the Sea Conference illustrates the merits of using objective criteria. At one point, India, representing the Third World bloc, proposed an initial fee for companies mining in the deep seabed of $60 million per site. The United States rejected the proposal, suggesting there be no initial fee. Both sides dug in; the matter became a contest of will.
Then someone discovered that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had developed a model for the economics of deep-seabed mining. This model, gradually accepted by the parties as objective, provided a way of evaluating the impact of any fee proposal on the economics of mining. When the Indian representative asked about the effect of his proposal, he was shown how the tremendous fee he proposed — payable five years before the mine would generate any revenue — would make it virtually impossible for a company to mine. Impressed, he announced that he would reconsider his position. On the other side, the MIT model helped educate the American representatives, whose information on the subject had been mostly limited to that provided by the mining companies. The model indicated that some initial fee was economically feasible. As a result, the U.S. also changed its position.
No one backed down; no one appeared weak — just reasonable. After a lengthy negotiation, the parties reached a tentative agreement that was mutually satisfactory.
The MIT model increased the chance of agreement and decreased costly posturing. It led to a better solution, one that would both attract companies to do mining and generate considerable revenue for the nations of the world. The existence of an objective model able to forecast the consequences of any proposal helped convince the parties that the tentative agreement they reached was fair. This in turn strengthened relationships among the negotiators and made it more likely an agreement would endure.