Summary of the book "Negotiations without defeat. Harvard Method

    The method of principled negotiation was developed by Roger Fisher, Bill Urey and Bruce Patten and published as a book in 1981. This book was translated into 25 languages ​​and became a bestseller. For readers, I offer its summary, which may be interesting not only to various kinds of managers and people professionally engaged in negotiation, but also to IT employees, housewives, businessmen, as well as anyone who wants to learn how to win in “Harvard” negotiations, but before reading The whole book has not yet reached.

    Key Book Theses

    1. The purpose of the negotiations - the satisfaction of interests. 
    2. The ability to see the problem from the perspective of the other side, no matter how difficult this task may seem to you, is one of the most important negotiating skills. It is not enough just to know that you perceive problems in different ways. If you want to influence another participant in the negotiations, you must absolutely clearly understand his point of view and feel its emotional power.
    3. It is necessary to separate the person from the problem.
    4. It is the perception of the reality of each of the parties that is the main problem of the negotiations, which opens the way to a solution. 
    5. Differences between positions and interests are quite significant. Interests define the problem. Your position is that you decide. Your interests are what exactly made you decide so. 
    6. The art of inventing decisions that serve the mutual benefit of the parties is the most useful of all that a negotiator can possess. 
    7. Regard the attack on you as an attack on a common problem.

    1. Do not insist on your position

    The negotiation game is always conducted on two levels. At one level, negotiations concern the substance of the matter; on the other, they focus (usually unconditionally) on the procedure for resolving this issue. This is a kind of game in which the parties can stick to hard or soft positions. If you want to get the right answer to the question, which style of game is preferable - delicate or hard, we can decisively tell you: none of them. Our method of negotiation is aimed at achieving reasonable results fairly quickly, efficiently and without prejudice to the personal relations between the participants. This method is called principled negotiation and is based on four basic principles.

    These four principles define the rectilinear negotiation method that can be used in virtually any environment. Each principle is associated with the basic element of negotiations and allows you to clearly imagine what needs to be done.

    1. People are not computers, defending their own position during negotiations only worsens the situation, since the participants' ego is inextricably merged with their positions. Before taking up the essence of the issue, it is necessary to separate people from the problem and deal with these aspects in turn.
    2. The position occupied in the negotiations, often completely different from what you really want, focus on the interests, not the positions.
    3. Before attempting to reach an agreement, find options that would serve mutual benefit.
    4. As a criterion, absolutely neutral standards should be chosen, such as market value, expert opinion, customs rules or legal requirements. Discuss these criteria, not what each of the parties wants or does not want to do, and not what each side should give way to the other.

    The method of principled bargaining is tough on the issues being addressed, but “delicate” to people.

    At the analysis stage, you simply try to understand the situation: collect information, organize and think about it.

    At the planning stage, you are dealing with the same four principles for the second time. Now you need to generate ideas and decide what to do.

    At the discussion stage, when the parties communicate with each other and seek to reach agreement, it is necessary to discuss the same four principles. Differences in perception, feelings of depression and anger, communication difficulties - all these factors must be taken into account and overcome.

    The result will be a reasonable agreement of the parties.

    2. Separate people from problem

    Being "soft" with people and "hard" with problems. People have emotions, value systems, points of view. Each of them is absolutely unique and unpredictable. During negotiations, both parties perceive each other in conjunction with the problem under discussion. The human aspect may be either useful or harmful, but it cannot be excluded.

    In order to understand the huge variety of purely human problems, divide them into three main categories:

    1. Perception
    2. Emotions
    3. Communication

    It is the perception of the reality of each of the parties that is the main problem of the negotiations, which opens the way to a solution.

    Remember: understanding the point of view of the other side is not an expense, but an advantage. It will allow you to reduce the conflict zone and effectively defend your own interests.

    To cope with differences in perception is to make them explicit and discuss with the other side.

    The emotions of one participant cause the response of the other. Fear can be anger, and anger can be fear. Emotions very quickly give rise to negotiations to a dead end, and even lead to their unsatisfactory completion. Freed from the burden of unspoken emotions, people are more willing to work on the problem.

    In the process of communication, do not be afraid to apologize when required. An apology is worthless, but it can be considered the most valuable investment of yours.

    The best time to solve problems is when the problem has not yet become a problem. Solve a problem, do not transfer your attitude to the problem to people.

    3. Focus on interests, not positions

    It is important to be receptive to other people's ideas and not to dwell on the personal characteristics of the other side.

    Differences between positions and interests are quite significant. Behind opposite positions lie common and quite compatible interests, and not just conflicting ones. In the course of many negotiations, an in-depth analysis of the genuine interests of the parties reveals the existence of many common and completely compatible interests.

    The most powerful interests are basic human needs. The main human needs are the following:

    • security;
    • economic well-being;
    • sense of belonging;
    • confession;
    • control over your own life.

    You must make sure that the other side is absolutely clear about how significant and legitimate your interests are.

    Formulate a problem before giving your own answer, which can be taken "loosely" otherwise.

    Look to the future, not the past. Talk about what you want from the future, instead of discussing the perfect yesterday.

    Be specific, but don't forget about flexibility. Be hard on the problem and soft with people. Firm advocacy of their interests often stimulates creativity, which allows the parties to reach a mutually beneficial solution. Show the other side that you are attacking the problem, not the participants in the negotiations.

    4. Invent mutually beneficial options.

    Finding a compromise that will suit both parties equally is the key to success. The art of inventing decisions that serve the mutual benefit of the parties is the most useful of all that a negotiator can possess.

    In most negotiations, we see four main obstacles that prevent the invention of various solutions:

    1. Premature judgment
    2. Search for a single solution
    3. Assumption about the fixed nature of the problem
    4. The opinion that "solving their problems is their problem."

    Nothing harms creative thinking like the criticism that accompanies each new idea. Judgment suppresses the imagination. Criticism is necessary, but there are cases when it is not that which is harmful, but when it is categorically unacceptable and one of these cases is the formation of solution options, when nothing should stand in the way of creativity and criticism should be turned off.

    In order to offer creative solutions, you must: first, separate the process of devising solutions from the process of evaluating them; secondly, to expand the number of options discussed, and not to look for a single solution; thirdly, to strive for mutual benefit and, fourthly, to look for ways to make these solutions simple.

    To reduce the risk of taking on unwanted commitments, develop the habit of offering at least two alternatives each time.

    Analyze the problem with the help of various experts. Invent various options for agreement. Change the range of the proposed agreement.

    Even if you do not strive to reduce joint losses, it is almost always possible to achieve mutual benefits. Almost always, the degree of your satisfaction depends on the extent to which the other party is satisfied with the agreement with which she will have to live.

    Look for something that has no value for you, but it is of interest to the other side, and vice versa. Instead of creating difficulties and obstacles for the other side, you should offer her as painless a choice as possible.

    In a difficult situation, creative ingenuity is absolutely necessary. In the process of any negotiations, such tactics help to find new moves, open locked doors and reach an agreement satisfying all the interested parties. You have to develop many options before you dwell on any one. First invent, you will decide later. Identify common and diverse interests. Try to connect them. And try to make the decision as easy as possible for the other side.

    5. Insist on using objective criteria.

    First of all, you need to make sure that the negotiations do not go beyond the stated theme and remain productive and find a subjective norm.

    Making a good contract is no easier than laying a good foundation. You must strive to ensure that agreement is reached on the basis of principles, and not under pressure. Focus on the nature of the problem, not on the characters of the parties. Be open to common sense and deaf to threats. Fundamental negotiations allow us to reach a reasonable agreement efficiently and in a friendly way.

    Reaching an agreement based on a discussion of objective criteria reduces the number of commitments that each party has to undertake. Using objective criteria, time is spent more efficiently as participants discuss possible standards and solutions. Independent standards further enhance the effectiveness of multilateral negotiations.

    1. Formulate your sentences so that they look like a joint search for an objective criterion.
    2. Use common sense, listen to reasonable suggestions, and soberly assess the applicability of standards.
    3. Never try to put pressure on the other side. Use only the method of persuasion.

    Ask: "What is your proposal based on?" First of all, agree with the principles.

    6. What if they are stronger?

    Setting a lower limit, that is, the most minimal conditions acceptable to you, can protect you from making an absolutely unprofitable offer, but at the same time can prevent both parties from formulating a creative solution that benefits all participants.

    Develop the best alternative to the negotiated agreement, NEA. It must be remembered that none of the methods can guarantee 100% success and always have a fallback. To this end, it is recommended to compile a list of possible actions that will have to be taken in case of failure and to work with the most promising options.

    Without thinking hard about what you have to do in case of failure, you go to the negotiations with your eyes closed. The better your best alternative, the more power you have.

    Remember that the one used in negotiations between two people is also applicable in negotiations between organizations.

    Careful consideration of your actions in case of failure of the negotiations will significantly strengthen your position.

    Developing the best strategies involves three steps:

    • drawing up a list of actions to be taken if an agreement is not reached;
    • more thorough study of the most promising ideas and their transformation into practical alternatives;
    • choosing the best alternative.

    The more attractive the alternative, the higher your ability to improve the terms of the agreement.

    Consider the best alternative to the enemy. The more you know about the alternatives of the other party, the better you can prepare for the negotiations.

    Developing the best alternative is the most effective way to negotiate with a far superior opponent.

    7. What if they don't want to play by your rules?

    Talking about interests, options and standards can be a sensible, efficient, and benevolent game. But what if the other side does not want to play it? You will try to discuss interests, and your opponents will unequivocally declare their position and will not leave it one iota.

    In order to switch the adversary's attention to material issues, there are three main methods:

    1. What can you do. You yourself should concentrate on the essence of the matter, and not on the positions occupied by the participants.
    2. What can your opponents do? Think about how you can change their way of thinking, how to make them focus on the essence of the matter, and not on the occupied position.
    3. What can a third party do? Consider engaging a third party that could shift participants' attention to interests, decision options, and criteria.

    If the other side takes a firm stand, you will be tempted to criticize and reject it. If opponents criticize your proposal, you will surely protect it and forget about everything else. If they attack you, you will defend and counterattack. But if you do that, then roll down to defending your own position. Rejecting the position of the other side, you are pushing opponents to the same.

    How to recognize that you are being attacked? As a rule, an attack consists of three maneuvers:

    • energetic statement of your own position;
    • an attack on your ideas and suggestions;
    • attack on you personally.

    Regard the attack on you as an attack on a common problem. When the other party articulates its position, you should neither reject it, nor agree with it. Consider it as one of the possible options. Do not defend your own ideas, take criticism and advice. Instead of asking your opponent to accept or reject the offer, ask what he doesn't like about the idea.

    Ask questions and pause. Questions create a field for action and allow both parties to attack the problem, not each other. Silence is your best weapon. Feel free to use it. If the other side makes you an unacceptable sentence or unjustly attacks you, it is best to just sit without saying a word.

    If you cannot change the course of the process, it may be possible for a third party. A third party can separate the proposal development process from decision making and help the parties understand which solution is best for them.

    8. What if the other side does dirty tricks?

    Dirty tricks are connected with one-sided proposals regarding the negotiation procedure, the negotiation game that the participants are leading.

    You need to know what's going on. Only in this case, you will be able to take effective action. Having understood, for example, that the other side attacks you personally in order to force an agreement that is advantageous to it, you can nullify your opponent’s efforts with your peace of mind.

    The most important goal of detecting dirty tactics early is to get the opportunity to discuss the rules of the game.

    Discuss tactics, not the personal qualities of your opponents. Do not distract from the negotiation process just to teach your opponents a lesson.

    Strictly adhere to the principles outlined earlier:

    1. Separate the person from the problem.
    2. Focus on interests, not positions
    3. Find options that would be mutually beneficial.
    4. Insist on using objective criteria.

    Some common dirty tricks:

    • Intentional deception
      • Fake facts. Verifying actual statements reduces the likelihood of cheating.
      • Ambiguous powers. Before embarking on mutual concessions, you must clarify the powers of the other party.
      • Dubious intentions. You may include special terms in the agreement itself.
      • Incomplete sincerity can not be regarded as a hoax. Negotiations rarely require absolute candor from participants.
    • Psychological war
      • Personal attacks. Timely recognition of tactics will help you reduce or even reduce its impact. Make it obvious and you don’t have to overcome the consequences.
      • The game "Good guy - bad guy." We often see such a reception in old police films. If you recognize the situation on time, you will not be deceived.
      • Threats It is best to postpone the response, hoping for a more constructive approach and understanding.
    • Positional pressure
      • Excessive requirements. Ask a fair assessment of their position until its consequences become catastrophic.
      • Escalating requirements. Pay attention to her opponent, and then take a break to see if you are ready to continue negotiations in this way.
      • Blackmail. In response to such tactics, you must be ready to break off negotiations.
      • Hard partner. Instead of discussing issues with this participant, try to get his agreement with the objective principle (preferably in writing), and then, if possible, talk directly with the “tough partner”.
      • Deliberate delays. You need to make the tactic of puffing obvious and discuss it. Also, consider creating a fake opportunity for the other side. If you are a representative of a company that is conducting merger negotiations with another company, start negotiations with a third company, creating the impression that you are considering more than one offer.
      • "Agree or go." Continue the negotiations as if you have not heard anything, or change the subject, for example, suggest other solutions. If you decide to consciously use this tactic, let the opponent know that he loses if it is impossible to reach an agreement, and then try to change the situation so that the enemy can get out of it without losing face.

    At the beginning of the negotiations, it makes sense to say: “Listen, I know that this will sound a bit strange, but I would like to know the rules by which we are going to play. Do we want together to reach a reasonable agreement as quickly and effortlessly as possible? Or will we up to the end defend the positions initially occupied until the most stubborn one wins? ” Defending principles is much easier than illegal and unethical tactics. Do not be a victim.


    Three main aspects:

    1. You always knew it. There is nothing in this book that you would not have known to one degree or another. We only tried in the best way to organize what is known to all, and to create a convenient apparatus that could be used when thinking and acting.
    2. Learn by doing. No one will make you more experienced and clever, except yourself.
    3. Win Both theory and life experience confirm that the principle of principle negotiations brings real tangible results that turn out to be as good or even better than those that you could achieve using any other strategy.

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