Getting to Yes Book Summary By Roger Fisher, William Ury & Bruce Patton

*This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn an affiliate commission without it ever affecting the price you pay.

Getting to Yes (1981) is a book that is considered the ultimate guide to successful negotiations.

It provides readers with helpful tools and techniques so they can reach win-win solutions and resolve any conflict that arises in their dealings.

The book starts by outlining four primary principles for negotiation, such as separating people from problems, focusing on interests rather than positions, inventing options for mutual gain, and using objective criteria.

It then delves into the details about these principles so readers can understand them better and apply them in their daily lives.

Finally, it wraps up by offering further advice on how to create an environment of cooperation and trust between negotiating parties so that all sides can benefit from the process.

This comprehensive look at the intricacies of negotiations makes Getting to Yes a must-read for anyone interested in mastering negotiation skills.

Getting to Yes Book

Book Name: Getting to Yes (Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In)

Author(s): Roger Fisher, William Ury & Bruce Patton

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

Categories: Communication Skills

Author Bio

Roger Fisher was a pioneering figure in the field of negotiation.

He was an American professor at Harvard Law School and founded the Harvard Negotiation Project with his co-authors.

His book “Getting to Yes” changed the way individuals, groups, and companies approach the negotiation process.

Fisher's book outlines an effective strategy for reaching mutually beneficial agreements despite differences in interests.

He was a strong advocate of using interest-based negotiation instead of positional bargaining, which puts an emphasis on collaboration rather than just competition between parties.

His teachings have been used around the world and his legacy lives on through his work as a highly acclaimed author and scholar.

The Power Of Negotiation: Learning How To Reach Agreements In Today’s World


Negotiations are involved in everything that we do, and it pays to learn how to negotiate well.

Gone are the days when decisions were made by one person, without any involvement from others.

The world is now much more democratic: politicians talk to their voters, companies encourage collaboration and decision-making amongst their employees, and even parenting dynamics have changed due to increased access to information.

Therefore, we need to be able to talk with others and come up with solutions together.

By equipping yourself with the right skills and knowledge you can drastically improve the results of your negotiations.

From something as simple as deciding which movie to see with friends all the way up to complex business or political negotiations; having a strong understanding of negotiation will help you get the best possible outcome from any situation.

So take some time out of your day and practice your negotiation skills – it’ll pay off in far more contexts than you would think!

The Negative Effects Of Trench Warfare In Conflict Resolution

It’s easy to get stuck in the trap of trench warfare when it comes to resolving conflicts.

In this situation, both sides dig themselves into their positions and refuse to budge irrespective of the cost.

This is a costly approach as it does not result in a good solution, either one party will win or a (less than ideal) compromise will be reached.

Aside from being ineffective and taking up too much time, energy and resources – trench warfare has a negative impact on relationships.

Trench warfare implies that both parties are more concerned with winning than they are with finding an amicable solution together.

Such behavior often leads to extreme positions being taken that could have easily been avoided had the parties wanted to learn more about each other’s needs and work together for a better outcome.

For these reasons, you should avoid the 5th generation approach when resolving conflicts; it costs more in terms of time and resources, not to mention relationships – yet yields very little reward in return.

The Interpersonal Level Is The Key To Successful Negotiation

When it comes to negotiating, it’s important to remember that you’re dealing with people—not just facts.

Both sides bring their own experiences, values, and emotions to the table, and these can all affect the outcome of a negotiation.

It’s possible for two people to talk about completely different things without realizing it.

Emotions like anger or fear can also be brought into play, and these can cause problems if not addressed correctly.

Therefore, when entering into any negotiation, keep in mind that there is always an interpersonal level at play in addition to the facts.

As such, it is essential to show empathy towards those you are negotiating with and consider both the factual arguments and human perceptions and emotions.

This will make it more likely for both sides to reach a successful agreement that is satisfactory for everyone involved.

The Power Of Focusing On Facts Rather Than Emotions For Successful Negotiation


When engaging in any type of negotiation, it is important to remember that you should always strive to work with the other party—not against them.

This means that rather than seeing the other person as an enemy or opponent, you should both treat each other like partners who are looking for a long-term solution.

In order to do this effectively, try to remove your personal emotion from the conversation and remain focused on discussing facts.

Attack the problem, not the person—never stoop to attacking someone personally or accusing them of being unreasonable.

Doing so will likely cause the other party to become emotional and lose sight of the facts that are being discussed.

Furthermore, try to distance yourselves from the topic and look at it together from a neutral perspective, as if you were both sitting on the same side of a table.

This can help create an atmosphere where both parties feel comfortable expressing their views and opinions while staying on fact-based terms.

Take separating couples, for instance–instead of fighting over who is wrong in a failed marriage they need to figure out what arrangements are best for their children going forward.

In essence, fight the problem you’re negotiating with and stay away from attacking each other as people at all cost; this way you can work together toward finding a mutually beneficial solution.

Understand Your Own And The Other Party’S Interests For A Constructive Negotiation

If you want to come up with a constructive solution during a negotiation it is important to understand the interests behind the positions taken by both sides.

When you take a closer look at two conflicting positions, such as spending holidays by the sea and going to the Alps, you can find out new solutions unexpectedly without necessitating any compromises.

For example, if one wants to swim and another particularly desires rock climbing then why not spend the holidays near a mountain lake? That said, often a position is based on numerous interests and expectations like geographical areas they would cover, accommodation preferences or food standards.

Therefore, understanding all those relevant interests plays an essential role in finding out where points of agreement exist and painless concessions can be made.

To do so, one needs to ask questions which uncover crucial facts about the root causes of their attitude like “Why do you want to go there?” or “What makes this unacceptable for you?” Being aware of your own underlying interests is also necessary before drafting suggestions for reaching an acceptable resolution.

Once everyone’s position is apparent it becomes easier to recognize opportunities leading towards best outcomes for both sides.

Search For A Joint Solution By Outlining All Potential Options First

When entering into a negotiation, it’s important to remember that instead of bringing one-sided proposals, you should be open to discussing all potential solutions.

Rather than immediately agreeing or disagreeing with a particular solution, take time to outline all the options first.

In a way, negotiating is like making guesses – when someone asks you “who will win the Nobel Prize in Literature next year?,” you wouldn’t come up with just one name; rather, you would brainstorm a variety of possible candidates first before choosing the one that both parties can agree upon.

Similarly, when negotiating, it’s best to think of it consisting of two phases: outlining potential solutions and then agreeing on one.

To accomplish this, try coming up with extreme positions – hilarious amounts for both sides so you can work towards something realistic that everyone can agree upon.

Brainstorming new ideas from different perspectives and inviting experts could help too.

Only once you’ve outlined various choices can you start searching for acceptable solutions – and hopefully both parties will happily agree on one in no time!

Don’t Give In To Pressure: Rely On Objectivity To Reach Fair Negotiations


The key to successful negotiation is to make sure you are always basing your decisions on objective criteria.

Whether it’s what constitutes a fair price for a house or dividing a cookie between two children, objective criteria are the only way to get to an agreement that both sides can accept.

In the book, Getting to Yes, authors remind us why this is crucial.

By relying on clear and unambiguous criteria, there is less room for misinterpretation or disagreement.

When negotiating with someone, both parties should openly state their criteria for evaluating the quality of the solution as this will ensure that it is testable and justifiable.

It’s also important to recognize that sometimes there won’t be tried-and-tested yardsticks or precedents we can rely on.

In those cases, we should aim for a fair decision process instead.

For example, if you’re cutting a cookie between two kids — let the first child do the cutting but let the second one choose which half goes to whom!

Overall, remember that whenever you’re making an agreement involving any negotiation component: always find objective criteria in order to base your decision on.

The Key To Negotiating Success Is Preparation: Gather Information And Know Your Details

Successful negotiations come down to being well-prepared.

It’s important to research and gather as much information as possible before the negotiation so that there are no surprises or misunderstandings.

You should also take the time to study the people you’ll be dealing with, their individual interests and goals, and any other context you need to consider in order to have a productive dialogue.

In addition, it is vital to plan out logistical details such as where/when the negotiation should take place, what format it will follow (e.g., by phone or in person), and whether pressure from deadlines could be beneficial or detrimental.

Devoting this kind of thought ahead of time helps ensure that everyone involved feels secure enough during the negotiation process for constructive conversations to take place.

Simply put, the more well-prepared you are for a negotiation, the better chance you have of achieving success.

The Power Of Positive Communication: How Listening And Staying Solution-Oriented Can Help Resolve Conflicts

The key concept of the book “Getting to Yes” is that negotiation is all about effective communication.

This means you have to listen carefully and make sure you understand what the other person is really saying, not just hearing what you want to hear.

Also, stay solution-oriented and don’t force your own beliefs or opinions onto the other person.

Make sure to rephrase whatever has been said in order to avoid any misunderstandings.

When it comes time for you to express your point of view or interests, focus on facts rather than personal feelings.

Be aware that emotional outbursts or anger can arise during the course of a negotiation, but the best thing to do is give space for those emotions if needed and explain why it happened in a non-responsive way.

The ultimate goal should be seeking a solutions based on facts discussed back and forth between two parties — while at the same time preventing any flow disruption due to potential misunderstandings!

No Negotiation Strategy Is Guaranteed To Bring Success

Bring Success

Even with the best negotiation tools, unfortunately, success can never be guaranteed.

This is because there are many uncontrollable factors that can impact the outcome of a negotiation such as an imbalance in power or the other person refusing to adhere to an agreed-upon process.

And no matter how skilled a negotiator you may be, there will always be some topics and areas that remain completely non-negotiable – for example, you can’t buy the White House no matter how hard you try!

So while having all the necessary negotiation tools at your disposal, such as outlining the matter at hand and agreeing on a consensus decision-making process beforehand, is important, it’s also essential to understand that even with these in place, things don’t always turn out as expected.

Wrap Up

Getting to Yes is a book all about negotiation.

Its key message is that instead of considering conflicts as just a competition between two sides, understanding and addressing the underlying interests of all parties can help create better solutions.

The book’s advice includes: keeping in mind that you’re negotiating with people, not just devising part strategies; understanding both parties’ interests before looking for solutions; listing potential options before coming to a decision; being prepared for the negotiation; and focusing on communication and facts during it.

These are essential tools for successful negotiations, and the final takeaway from Getting to Yes is that no matter how well-prepared you are or which tools you use, there’s no guarantee of success—but having them makes it possible.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.