Summary of "Overcoming Barriers to Principled Negotiation"

Summary of

Overcoming Barriers to Principled Negotiation

by William Ury

Summary written by: Conflict Research Consortium Staff

Citation: "Overcoming Barriers to Principled Negotiation" in Getting Past No.Bantam: 1990.

After publishing the first edition of Getting to Yes in 1981, Fisher and Ury were deluged with questions and challenges. "What do you do when people won’t play along?" "What about situations where there is no possible win-win outcome?" "What happens when people respond with unfair tricks?" In addition to answering some of these questions in the revised edition, which came out in 1991, Ury also attempted to answer some of these questions in a sequel called Getting Past No, published in 1990. This book presents five steps of what Ury calls "breakthrough negotiation"--negotiation designed to break through obstacles and obtain win-win agreements with people who are initially resistant to such approaches. The five steps of breakthrough negotiation are:

1) Don’t react to provocations. Step away from the scene, calm down, and carefully plan your response. Do not respond automatically, because most automatic responses are negative and further escalate the situation.

2) Step around obstacles, don’t walk right into them. Use active listening to defuse negative feelings, and use I-messages to express your feelings. Agree whenever you can, but stand up for your principles as well.

3) Ask people "why?" "why not?" or "how is that fair?" to try to move them away from positional bargaining toward principled negotiation.

4) Make it easy for the opponent to agree by making the offer as attractive as possible

5) Make it hard for them to walk away by proving that the negotiated agreement is better than their alternatives. "Bring them to their senses, not their knees," Ury advises.