Getting to Yes

These are highly summarised notes from book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, for future self reference.

Key points to consider while negotiating

  1. Separate people from the problem: Team up with people of opposite side and work together to find a solution acceptable to all.
  2. Don’t bargain over positions: Do not change your positions while negotiating, it makes your stance weaker. A common example:

    Landlord: Rent is going be $2000!
    You: I can pay ~$1200.
    Landlord: I can give it in $1800.
    You: $1400 is maximum I can afford.
    ..
    ..

  3. Focus on interests: Often communication gap is actually the real problem. Do not just rely on what you are hearing from other side, drill down and ask questions to unravel the real interests behind their apparent position.
  4. Invent options: Once interests are known, do brainstorming sessions to come up with possible solutions and options. Freely imagine scenarios and device (even radical)ideas without judging them. Brainstorm freely and think out load.
  5. Decide on merit: Rather than insisting on what I want and what you want, use merits, industry standard and expert opinion to deicide the matter in a rational manner.

Miscellaneous Points

Dealing with people: Even if you are able to separate people from the problem eventually you have to deal with people after all. Always keep the people issues in mind e.g. do not do personal attacks because it might make the other side defensive and they would simply stop listening. Make a good working relation with people. Personal trust is priceless regardless of what party you represent. If you are known for honesty and fair dealing, it can be of invaluable help.

When is it okay to use positional bargaining: Positional bargaining is universally understood and used, its an easy way out. Sometimes it makes sense to use it. For example in case where making efforts in exploring interest, doing brainstorming sessions and selecting an appropriate merit or standard is simply not worth it. A situation where a arbitrary outcome is acceptable and stakes are low.

Who is more powerful in a negotiation: One who is least affected if negotiations fail. To be powerful, think about alternatives, more alternatives you have least affected you will be if negotiations do not reach an agreement.

One text procedure: if you are acting as an arbitrator in a negotiation, listen to interests of all sides. Prepare a draft, present it and ask all parties to critique. Update draft and ask for critique again. Repeat until you believe it is the best you can get to and give it to them as your final proposal.

Understanding the background: If you are negotiating with people of other culture/sex/religion/industry/etc its always important to know general thinking, assumptions, customs, standards of that group. But never make assumption about an individual’s point of view based on group it belongs to, always question your assumptions.

Medium of communication: These days most of the negotiations take place on email/text/phone rather than face to face. Not meeting in person reduces the impact of “mirror neurons” in our brain, which makes our negotiation less empathetic and decreases the sense of human connection. Face to face negotiations have been noted as more mutually beneficial in comparison with other communication channels. On the other hand mediums like email have their own advantages, you have plenty of time to think. Lack of interpersonal information makes discussion more focussed. Email is also relatively a better way to present arguments.

Personal touch: A little effort to make a personal connection, for example by sharing personal experience, finding a mutual connection, shared identity etc, increases cooperation and chances of agreement.

Implementation of agreement: It is very important part of negotiation to decide how final agreement is going to be implemented. Keep this in mind from start and make it part of ongoing negotiation and final commitment.

Listening and communication: Communication is key to success and listening is often most important part of it. Feeling of being heard makes the other party listen too, as a result it makes persuasion easier.

Vickrey auction: Vickrey auction a.k.a stamp auction is an interesting technique  to decide price of an item. It can be a fair way to deal in many different situations. Read more about it in this wikipedia article.

Last but not least: Use common sense.

Happy Negotiating,

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