At a recent Melbourne Extreme Programming User Group meeting the presenter Paul Monks mentioned the book “Getting to Yes, Negotiating an agreement without giving in” by Roger Fisher & William Ury & Bruce Patton.
Paul said the book helped a great deal in understanding how to negotiate to get Agile practices adopted at his place of work.
It’s rather hard to convince anybody of anything, so I thought the book must be magic.
I rushed out and bought a copy and sat down and read it and what follows is the five minute summary, however this isn’t a substitute for getting the book yourself as various examples in the book help understand the practices and how they are applied so consider this a quick reference.
- produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible.
- be efficient.
- improve or at least not damage the relationship.
A wise agreement:
- meets legitimate interests, to the extent possible.
- resolves conflicting interests fairly.
- is durable.
- takes community interests into account.
Positional bargaining produces an unwise agreement.
Basic elements for negotiating:
- people: separate the people from the position.
- interests: focus on interests, not positions.
- options: generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do.
- criteria: insist that the result be based on some objective standard.
Negotiators are people first. Always ask yourself “Am I paying enough attention to the people problem?”
Think in terms of perception, emotion and communication when dealing with the people problem.
- not really talking to each other.
- not really listening.
Invent Options and avoid the four major obsticles to inventing options:
- premature judgement.
- searching for a single answer.
- assumption of a fixed pie.
- thinking that solving their problem is the problem.
A little more detial for those who have time …
Don’t Bargain Over Positions
- Arguing over positions produces unwise agreements.
- Arguing over positions is inefficient.
- Arguing over positions endangers an ongoing relationship.
- When there are many parties, positional bargaining is even worse.
- Being nice is no answer.
Separate the People from the Problem
- Negotiators are people first.
- Every nogotiator has two kinds of interests: in the substance and in the relationship.
- The relationshop tends to become entangled with the problem.
- Positional bargaining puts relationship and substance in conflict.
Separate the relationship from the substance; deal directly with the people problem.
- Put yourself in their shoes.
- Don’t deduce their intentions from your fears.
- Don’t blame them for your problem.
- Discuss each other’s perceptions.
- Look for opportunities to act inconsistently with their perceptions.
- Give them a stake in the outcome by makeing sure they participate in the process.
- Face-saving: Make your proposals consistent with their values.
- First recognize and understand emotions, theirs and yours.
- Make emotions explicit and acknowledge them as legitimate.
- Allow the other side to let off steam.
- Don’t react to emotional outbursts.
- Use symbolic gestures.
- Listen actively and acknowledge what is being said.
- Speak to understand.
- Speak about yourself, not about them.
- Speak for a purpose.
Prevention works best
- Build a working relationship.
- Face the problem, not the people.
Focus on Interests, Not Positions
For a wise decision reconcile interests, not positions.
- Interests define the problem.
- Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests, as well as conflicting ones.
How do you identify interests?
- Ask “Why?”
- Ask “Why not?” Think about their choice.
- Realise that each side has multiple interests.
- The most powerful interest are basic human needs.
- Make a list.
Talking about interests
- Make your interests come alive.
- Acknowledge their interests as part of the problem.
- Put the problem before your answer.
- Look forward, not back.
- Be concrete but flexible.
- Be hard on the problem, soft on the people.
Invent Options for Mutual Gain
- Separate inventing options from deciding.
- Brainstorm options with both sides.
- Multiply options by shuttling between the specific and the general: The Circle Chart.
- Look through the eyes of different experts.
- Invent agreements of different strengths.
- Change the scope of a proposed agreement.
- Identify shared interests. There is no fixed pie.
- Dovetail differing interests.
- Ask for their preferences.
Make their decision easy
- Who’s shoes?
- What decision?
- What would you hope for?
Insist on Using Objective Criteria
- Deciding on the basis of will is costly.
- Principled negotiation produces wise agreements amicably and efficiently.
Developing Objective Criteria
- Fair standards.
- Fair procedures.
Negotiating with objective criteria
- Frame each issue as a joint search for objective criteria.
- Reason and be open to reason.
- Never yield to pressure.
For answers to questions like “What if they are more Powerful?”, “What if they won’t play?” and “What if they use dirty tricks?” you will have to read the book; I think you will be glad you did.