One Minute Book Review: Getting To Yes

Today I take a look at a big classic from the field of negotiation: Roger Fisher's and William Ury's
Getting to Yes: Negotiating an agreement without giving in.

Negotiation is really only about one thing: getting what you want. The prize can be anything from the choice of dinner for this evening, to the amount of your next raise or the details of a new strategic partnership. Private or professional life, it doesn't matter. We negotiate all the time and the outcome of our negotiations greatly influences our lives.

And yet, this is a skill most of us in software engineering didn't receive any formal training in. Professionally the matter is even worse. Most of our "opponents", ranging from managers to sales people, have both more practice and better training. This leaves us fighting an uphill battle!

We must stand up and level the playing field!

I found Roger Fisher and William Ury to be powerful allies for this quest.

Getting To Yes makes the case for principled negotiation. The main focus is reaching a mutually satisfying agreement. This implies meeting the needs of both parties, and resisting the urge of trying to "win" against your opponent.

The reason they designed this method, is because most people get stuck bargaining over positions, effectively creating a win-lose situation.

The alternative is to take a step back and understand what your opponent really wants. Once his interests have been uncovered, you can then look whether the pie can be divided or whether new options should be invented for mutual gain. A good way to achieve this is by looking if the pie can not be expanded instead. Adding new elements to the negotiation opens up new scenarios and increases the chances of reaching an agreement.

If the negotiation gets difficult, make sure you focus on the problem and not on the people. You should always insist on objective criterias. And if all that doesn't work, you should have another plan ready: your BATNA (Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement).

I found this book to be immensely useful. And I am not alone thinking this: they have sold millions of copies!

Highly recommended.



About Axel Fontaine

Axel Fontaine is the founder and CEO of Boxfuse the easiest way to deploy JVM and Node.js applications to AWS.

Axel is also the creator and project lead of Flyway, the open-source tool that makes database migration easy.

He is a Continuous Delivery and Immutable Infrastructure expert, a Java Champion, a JavaOne Rockstar and a regular speaker at many large international conferences including JavaOne, Devoxx, Jfokus, JavaZone, QCon, JAX, ...

You can follow him on Twitter at @axelfontaine


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