Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

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Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

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Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: An easy read with a powerful message, crammed full of useful tips to help you get what you want in every arena, by negotiating realistically but effectively.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Random House Business
ISBN: 978-1847940933

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Negotiation is a tough thing, but given how often we do it (for many people, there are things to negotiate on a daily basis) you’d think we’d be better at it. This book starts with the line Like it or not, you are a negotiator and that’s the bare truth of it.

First published before I was even born, you might wonder whether this book (mildly revised and updated for this latest edition) is still applicable to modern day life, but the general consensus is that not only is it still useful, it’s more relevant than ever before. As the authors say in the preface, thirty years ago people were a lot less willing to class themselves as negotiators, a term which had negative connotations. Combine this with subtle shifts in relationships, both at work and at home, and we are now negotiating in many more scenarios than before, as hierarchy becomes less important, and balances of power shift.

Getting to Yes is an immensely accessible book that gives you usable tips that are both practical and useful. Without being patronising, it points out common errors made by those trying to negotiate, using both generic everyday situations and ones from history (even world leaders suck at negotiating sometimes). Examples and anecdotes are interspersed with tools, tables and summaries, to provide immediately adaptable approaches to negotiation that you can try out immediately.

There seems to be a fair amount of emphasis on how you, the common man, can outsmart corporate ogres, be they your insurance company as you go to make a claim, or a landlord who has been over-charging you. I would like to think the techniques from this book could help both sides get what they wanted, but in various examples featured in the book, corporate America loses the battle and the triumphant negotiator gets exactly what they wanted, which seems a little realistic, when other sections focus on the need for win-win situations. Certainly, I would hope to be applying the suggestions from the other side, that of the boss rather than the minion.

Back to the positives, though, and this book is blissfully short, with a quarter of the pages an appendix to the original 1981 text, and therefore ones you can read but don’t automatically need to. There are many management books out there that drone on and on, barely getting to the point, but this is sharp and succinct, and all the better for it. I learnt something from almost every page, which is not something I often say, and I found it entertaining too. There is only so much that can be learnt from a book like this, and a lot of knowledge comes from practice and experience, another reason why short books that get you prepped and then swiftly set you loose work best in my opinion. For this reason, it’s highly recommended, and probably the only book on negotiating you’ll ever need.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.

Managing by Henry Mintzberg is another top rated business related read - it's longer and it covers more areas, but it's just as useful if you've got the time, or if the clock's ticking the shorter How to Persuade and Influence People: Powerful Techniques to Get Your Own Way More Often by Philip Hesketh might be a better bet.

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Buy Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury at


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