A long time ago, I read the very excellent Getting to Yes (1981), a book that described the difference between position-based negotiation and interests-based negotiation. The follow up book written by one of the authors, is aptly named Getting Past No in applying the same principles from Getting to Yes but provides a different technique when negotiating with another party who is unwilling to relent.

In the book, Ury describes the conditions that prevent people from getting to agreement, including your own reactions, their emotions, their position, their dissatisfaction and their power. I like the five step series that he outlines in the book:

  1. Don’t react, go to the balcony – A powerful metaphor that describes a thinking style of keeping your reactions from affecting the negotiation. Instead of giving to natural instincts of striking back, giving in or breaking off, going to the balcony offers a different alternative to approaching the situation. Take time to evaluate the situation as it will lead to the best outcomes for both sides
  2. Don’t argue, step to their side – What I like about this book is the way that Ury describes a collaborative approach to negotiation. Stepping to their side often involves acknowledging (you don’t have to necessarily agree) with the other party’s point of view. Until the other party’s viewpoint is heard, they are unlikely to hear your own.
  3. Don’t reject, reframe – Reframing involves using questioning and other techniques to change the game from a “fixed-pie” mentality to a “win-win” opportunity. Rejecting doesn’t progress negotiations. Exploring interests can. The point of this chapter talks about avoid dismissing the other party’s position, but instead trying to understand what their motivation they have behind it and finding a solution that might solve both sets of interests.
  4. Don’t push, build them a golden bridge – Ury describes this stage as one that takes time. If you try to close a deal too quickly, negotiations will break down. During this phase, you need to address unmet interests, help people save face and involve the other side in the solution.
  5. Don’t escalate, use power to educate – This section outlines a number of strategies if the other party sticks to their position and is unwilling to relent. The key to this stage is knowing both your own Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) as well as theirs. Ury recommends executing on your BATNA as this will reduce the possibilities of future transactions, but by knowing both positions, you can explore the consequences if both parties fail to agree. He talks about strategies such as using third parties and aiming for mutual satisfaction rather than adopting a victory mindset.