Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations – William Ury

Here are 5 other points to the book:

How do you get past NO? William Ury, American author, academic, anthropologist, negotiation expert, and co-founder of the Harvard Program on Negotiation, states that there are 5 steps to getting past NO: 1) controlling your own behavior, 2) diffusing their hostility, anger, or fear by stepping to their side and listening to them, 3) reframing their position, 4) build them a golden bridge by involving them in the process and incorporating their ideas, and 5) use power to educate by gently informing them of the costs associated with not being able to come to an agreement. With the plethora of strategies, tools, and tactics addressed in the book, you’ll increase your chance of success at getting past NO. Here are the points to the book:


1. Prior to a negotiation, look for a win-win outcome. Those who try to seek win-lose situations won’t do as well in the long run as those who look for win-win scenarios; this has been proven in tit-tat game theory. Even in the book The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins, it touches upon this. I personally believe that the best negotiators in life are the ones who look for “win-win” situations. This is one of the 7 habits of highly effective people as stated in the book written by Steven Covey. Your single greatest opportunity as a negotiator is to change the game . Instead of playing their way, let them have your way—the way of joint problem-solving. The great home-run hitter Sadahara Oh, the Japanese as his partner , who with every pitch was serving up an opportunity for him to hit a home run. Breakthrough negotiators do the same: They treat their opponents as negotiating partners who are presenting an opportunity to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. As in the Japanese martial arts of judo, jujitsu, and aikido, you need to avoid pitting your strength directly against your opponent’s. Since efforts to break down the other side’s resistance usually only increase it, you try to go around their resistance. That is the way to break through. Breakthrough negotiation is the opposite of imposing your position on the other side. Rather than pounding in a new idea from the outside, you encourage them to reach for it from within. Rather than telling them what to do, you let them figure it out. Rather than pressuring them to change their mind, you create an environment in which they can learn. Only they can break through their own resistance; your job is to help them.


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2. Don’t underestimate the power of preparation in a negotiation. Preparation is the majority of the work as this gives you the opportunity to clearly define your goal(s), how you’ll get there, what you’re willing to give up, and what sort of angle you’ll be approaching from. Spend the time to prepare for a negotiation as you’re better off than just winging-it.I once asked Lord Caradon, a British diplomat, what was the most valuable lesson he had learned during his long and distinguished service in government. ‘The most valuable lesson,’ he replied, ‘I learned at the very start of my career when I was posted to the Middle East as an assistant to a local administrator. My superior would visit a different village each day dealing with disputes and other pressing matters. Once he arrived, pandemonium broke out as people besieged him with requests and offered him coffee. It wouldn’t cease until he left at sunset. He might easily have forgotten his objectives but for one simple habit. ‘Just before he entered the village in the morning, he would pull the jeep off to the side of the road and ask, ‘What is it that we want to leave this village tonight having achieved?’ He and I would answer the question, then we would go into the village. When we left that evening, he would again pull the jeep off the road and meeting, prepare. After every meeting, assess your progress, adapt your strategy, and prepare again. The secret of effective negotiation is that simple: prepare, prepare, prepare. Most negotiations are won or lost even before the talking begins, depending on the quality of the preparation. People who think they can ‘wing it’ without preparing often find themselves sadly mistaken. Even if they reach agreement, they may miss opportunities for joint gain they might well have come across in preparing. There is no substitute for effective preparation. The more difficult the negotiation, the more intensive your preparation needs to be.


3. Figure out both your interests and the negotiating party’s interests as well. If you know what they want and the reason for wanting it, it’ll better help you come up with a way to getting to the solution. For example, what they want may be of high value but a low price to you and vice versa. Knowing this information, you’ll come to the solution quicker and you’re both better off.Figure out your interests . Unless you know where you want to go, you’re unlikely to get there. In a negotiation with a difficult client who insists on sticking to the original fee for your services despite the unforeseen additional work required, your position may be, ‘I want a thirty percent increase in fees to reflect the additional work.’ Your interests in wanting the fee increase may be to preserve your profit margin while keeping the client happy. You uncover your interests by asking the simple question Why? ‘Why do I want that? What problem am I trying to solve?’” He later states, Figure out their interests . Negotiation is a two-way street. You usually can’t satisfy your interests unless you also satisfy the other side’s. It is therefore just as important to understand their interests as your own. Your difficult client may be concerned about sticking within an established budget and looking good to their boss.” and, The single most important skill in negotiation is the ability to put yourself in the other side’s shoes. If you are trying to change their thinking, you need to begin by understanding what their thinking is. How can you learn about the other side’s interests? Try the simple exercise of imagining from their point of view what they seem to care most about. Then ask yourself: Do they often behave in a difficult fashion or is this just a temporary aberration? What has been happening in their personal or professional lives that may be coloring their attitude toward you? Do they have a reputation for honesty and fair dealing? If you have time, you might talk to people who know them—their friends and peers, their customers and employees. The more you can find out about the other side, the better your chances of influencing them successfully.


4. Innovate your way to success. In most cases there’s more than just one solution to the problem; you just need to spend the time to figure it out. Never believe that there’s only one option or solution. The ability to innovate your way out of a problem is key to one’s success. If you look at any game changers in the world, especially in the technology world, those who are at the top were able to innovate and execute a better solution to a problem. “A common mistake in negotiation is to dwell on a single solution, your original position. By opening yourself up to consideration of a multitude of options, you may generate new possibilities, one of which might meet your interests while also satisfying the other side’s. and evaluation, while important functions, interfere with your imagination. It is better to separate the two functions. Invent first, evaluate later. Suspend judgment for a few minutes and try to come up with as many ideas as possible. Include ideas that at first seem like wild ideas, remembering that many of the best ideas in the world started out as wild ideas everyone disparaged. After brainstorming a multitude of options, you can review them and evaluate how well they satisfy your interests—and the other side’s too.


5. Have a BATNA (Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement). More options equates to leverage. The better your alternatives are, the better you can leverage your position. “Your BATNA is your walkaway alternative. It’s your best course of action for satisfying your interests without the other’s agreement. If you’re negotiating with your boss over a raise, your BATNA might be to find a job with another firm. If you’re negotiating with a salesperson, your BATNA might be to talk to the store manager or, if that fails, you might go to another store. If one nation is negotiating with another over unfair trade practices, its BATNA may be to appeal to the appropriate international tribunal. Usually resorting to your alternative entails costs to you and to the relationship, which is why you are negotiating to develop a better solution. BATNA is the key to negotiating power. Your power depends less on whether you are bigger, stronger, more senior, or richer than the other person than on how good your BATNA is. If you have a viable alternative, then you have leverage in the negotiation. The better your BATNA, the more power you have.


6. Keep cool and don’t lose your temper. Don’t get caught up in the heat of the moment from what the opposing negotiator is saying. Emotions aren’t going to help you think through logically to a win-win solution, especially if you’re all fired up. By reacting to the opposing negotiator, they have more control over you and can mold you to how they see fit. “Much of your opponent’s power derives from the ability to make you react. Have you ever wondered how a small terrorist group in the Middle East can command worldwide attention and create sleepless nights for the leader of the most powerful nation on earth—simply by nabbing a passing American on the street? The hostage-takers have hardly any power in and of themselves—their power comes from the reaction of the American public. Even if reacting doesn’t lead to a gross error on your part, it feeds the unproductive cycle of action and reaction. Ask the wife why she shouts at her husband and she may answer, “Because he shouts at me.” Ask the husband and he will give the same answer: “Because she shouts at me.” By reacting, you become part of the problem. Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to tangle.


By Ryan Timothy Lee


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