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Authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce M. Patton offer a seminal step-by-step guide to negotiating effectively. The authors use anecdotal examples to illustrate both positive and negative negotiating techniques. They believe that, with principled negotiation, both parties can reach an agreement in an amicable and efficient manner. Principled negotiation is based on the belief that when each side comes to understand the interests of the other, they can jointly create options that are mutually advantageous, resulting in a wise settlement. Since this is the second edition, the authors take the opportunity to answer ten common questions from readers of the first edition. If you become skeptical about these fairly rosy negotiation techniques as you read, the Q and A section is very useful. This classic text is easy to understand and you can implement its techniques immediately. getAbstract can’t ask for more than that.


Judging Negotiation Styles: Hard vs. Soft

The most common form of negotiation involves successively taking on and giving up positions. The two sides bargain over positions and lock themselves into their individual stances. In its standard form, this kind of positional bargaining requires many separate decisions (what to offer, what to reject, how big a concession to make). The process is difficult and tedious. Tactics such as stonewalling or threatening to walk out become common. Positional bargaining increases the time and cost of reaching an agreement and the risk that none will be produced at all. The contest of wills strains and shatters relationships. Bitter feelings may last a lifetime.

Many people recognize the risk of hard positional bargaining and take a softer approach. They treat the other side as friends and emphasize agreement as their goal, rather than victory. It is standard to make offers and concessions, to be amiable and trust the other side, and to yield to avoid confrontation. Much negotiating within families and among friends takes place this way. This is efficient in producing agreements quickly, but the agreements may not be wise ones that take...

About the Authors

Roger Fisher teaches negotiation at Harvard Law School and is director of the Harvard Negotiation Project. He was the originator and executive editor of the award-winning television series, The Advocates. He consults through Conflict Management, Inc., and the Conflict Management Group of Cambridge, Massachusetts. William L. Ury is the author of Getting Past No: Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation. Bruce M. Patton is a co-author of Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most.

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