Getting to Yes

Getting to Yes

"Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" is a best-selling 1981 non-fiction book written by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury...

Getting to Yes – with a little help from my Friends 

“Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” is a best-selling 1981 non-fiction book written by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury.


If you like or are interested in successful negotiation it is a “must read”. The book is all about the human psychology associated with the bargaining process. I read it a long time ago. It was interesting and I remember thinking to myself “I wish everybody I had to bargain with had read this book”.


Whether we like it or not, we enter into contracts every day of our lives. We buy newspapers in the morning, sandwiches at lunch time, beer in the pub and so on. Sometimes we pay the asking price. Sometimes we negotiate discounts. The item may be overpriced or damaged. It may be last year’s model or about to become out of date. Whatever the reason, humans like to negotiate.


Although you may never have thought about it, these transactions are all contracts in their own right. There is a body of law which supports and regulates these contracts and the truth is that 99% of us are oblivious to this body of law.


Negotiating contracts in business is also something of an everyday occurrence. Thousands of agreements are negotiated and concluded every day of the week without us even giving it a second thought. But there are occasions when a contract must be secured – the survival of your business may depend on it – and the negotiation takes on a life of its own.


At the risk of stating the obvious, people and entities negotiate contracts that will result in both sides obtaining something of value from the agreement. Often that something-of-value is easy to identify but, in complex business transactions, gauging value can be difficult if not impossible. Often concessions are offered by one party in the belief that the other party will attach value to this gesture when in reality what the other party needs is something completely different.


Now for another “home truth”. Human beings who become involved in complex and difficult negotiations can become extremely competitive animals and will think nothing of exploiting an opponent’s weaknesses if these are disclosed during the bargaining process.


So, how do we “get to yes” with a person we are negotiating with, obtain what we need from the ensuing contract and not give too much away in the process?

I think I have the answer – why not employ a neutral facilitator to assist you and your opposing party to negotiate and conclude an agreement?


Negotiating a contract is not that different from resolving a dispute. You still need to separate the people from the issues, explore common interests, invent options for mutual gain as well as establishing your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (“BATNA”) and Worst Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (“WATNA”).


If any of this sounds familiar it is probably because you have read one of my previous articles on preparing for a successful mediation.


So, who should you turn to when you need to “get to yes”? You’ve guessed it – you need to speak to one of my mediator friends.


Peter Vinden is a practising commercial, workplace and employment mediator. He is Managing Director of Vinden and can be contacted by email at