Business Book Chain-Getting to Yes

Getting to Yes –Roger Fisher and William Ury

Guest reviewer – Pamela Lyall

Getting to Yes has been around for quite a while – indeed it was first published as long ago as 1981 –but the modestly slim volume entitled Getting to Yes, still remains the seminal work on negotiation and worth every penny of the £5.89 needed to purchase it. Because whether you recognise it or not, you and I are engaged in negotiation each and every day of our lives. And this book, subtitled Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In, provides a framework within which to be a more effective negotiator.

Getting To Yes, is not as some might think an encouragement to us all to be nice and get along. Rather, the authors consider we are thinking about negotiation in the wrong way. It is the same whatever the size of the dispute – be it household arguments through to global disputes – we instinctively engage in “positional bargaining”. That means we adopt a position, argue for it, and then make concessions until compromise is reached. The problem is that once you have identified with a position, it is almost impossible not to take what happens to it personally. You are no longer seeking the most sensible solution, but trying to avoid diverging from a stance that has become merged with your sense of self.

Getting To Yes is a recipe book of ways to take ourselves out of the negotiation process and is based on the notion of “principled negotiation”. As the authors say” Principled negotiation shows you how to get what you are entitled to and still be decent. It enables you to be fair while protecting you against those who would take advantage of your fairness.” All of which shifts the focus from the game of position-versus-position to the bigger picture of figuring out what game you are in fact playing – where, as a result, agreement may prove easier to reach. As you read it you may well find that it all makes perfect sense, you might even think it fairly obvious, and yet the paradox is that few of us actually engage with each other in this way. To consciously attempt to do it differently could make a significant difference in your life and the lives of those around you at work, at home and indeed in every context you find yourself.

For a book which endeavours to get you to think in a different way it is remarkably concise and very accessible with many practical and down to earth suggestions. It is a book to read fully once and dip into often. As someone has already said – if you read one book on negotiation, make it this one!


Negotiation is a way of life for the majority of us. Whether we’re at work, at home or simply going out, we want to participate in the decisions that affect us. Nowadays, hardly anyone gets through the day without a single negotiation, yet, few of us are armed with the effective, powerful negotiating skills that prevent stubborn haggling and ensure mutual problem-solving. Fisher and Ury cut through the jargon to present a few easily remembered principles that will guide you to success, no matter what the other side does or whatever dirty tricks they resort to. They include:–Don’t bargain over positions–Separate people from the problem–Insist on objective criteria–What if they won’t play?

About Pam Lyall:
Pam Lyall is Director of Mediation Services at Core Solutions.
Core is Scotland’s leading provider of high quality independent mediation and facilitation services in the private and public sectors. They work throughout the UK and beyond, helping businesses, organisations and individuals find prompt, constructive and creative solutions to difficult problems or disputes.


About the Business Book Chain:
Thousands of business books are published every year. How do you know which ones to read? Which ones matter and why? Which will help you develop as a person and which will help you to grow your business? We think that the best way is by word of mouth, which is why we have established the Business Book Chain. Each month a respected business woman reviews a book which has been important to her and tells why it could be important to you too. She then asks another woman to do the same and the chain grows!
If you would like to submit a review of your favourite business book and start your own chain, please contact


1 Comment on Business Book Chain-Getting to Yes

  1. Coincidentally just acquired a copy (slightly yellow-paged hardback!) of Getting to Yes which came from a trainer colleague, warmly recommended. Great review Pamela, I recognise the pivotal issue of “Positional Negotiation”- I’ll read my copy with enthusiasm and focus now!

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