Getting to KNOW


(From “Getting to Yes” to “Getting to Know” via “Getting to No”)

All negotiators know “Getting to Yes” from Harvard famous professors Ury, Fischer & Patton, the bible of modern negotiating approach, open-minded negotiators did appreciate the alternative “Getting to No” proposed by Chris Voss, former FBI chief negotiator, in his best seller named “Never split the difference”, seasoned negotiators should realize that, indeed, the most efficient approach of negotiating is “Getting to Know”.

What “Getting to Know” stands for?

Where, “Getting to Yes” invited negotiators to work out parties ‘interests over parties ‘positions, Chris Voss, teaches open-minded negotiators to contemplate “Getting to No” as an alternative to Harvard method to “Getting to Yes”. Chris Voss learning is that true negotiation really starts with a “no”. From Chris Voss’ point of vue, the initial “no”, allowing parties to identify their differences, is a much more efficient way to start negotiating than a “yes” which in real life is more likely to express “Yes, but…”.

Allowing your counterpart to express a “no” shows her that you are really listening and understanding origin of different positions of parties and the need of taking them into consideration Instead of trying to get a “yes” at all costs that, in a sense, denies your counterpart right to disagree with you.

This recalled, what “Getting to Know” means?

Our practice of complex negotiations has taught us that while Getting to Yes or No have been fundamental contributions to the modern negotiation approach, Getting to Know your counterpart is the best way to determine how to well negotiate with your counterpart.

Why this?

While negotiating, one of the biggest challenges is identifying not only the issue but why the issue is an issue.

Because things are not positive of negative by themselves but are considered as such by people, where a party raises a problem, usually the problem is not the problem. The problem is the emotion, the frustration created by the problem to the people pointing out the issue.

Especially, if you acknowledge that when it comes to negotiate, people are stressed out and usually eager to early terminate negotiation process even though if it means denying the real issue of the dispute.

That’s probably why, over years spent to negotiating, we repeatedly have been stroked by people ability to miss the point and, therefore, we consider that most of no deal are born by lack of knowledge of what really matters to our counterpart.

That said how to determine what really matters to your counterpart?

Even though we have been taught by brilliant negotiators how much it matters not to stigmatize its counterpart as the source of the problem, we alternatively consider that ultimate contribution of Getting to Know your counterpart is to help negotiator defocusing for a while on the issue itself to pay attention on why the issue is such for your counterpart. It reintroduces human feelings and need to take emotions into account in problems solving.

Ignoring who really is your counterpart to just focus on the issue is like negotiating in the dark. If you don’t sincerely demonstrate true attention of who your counterpart is, you not only evidence your lack of empathy and listening skills, but you also prevent yourself from getting key information you could use to identify what matters on the other side of the negotiating table.

Another true add of “Getting to Know” is that demonstrating your interest in your counterpart as a concerned person let her opportunity to feel properly listened and doing so create favorable zone where each and all parties will be able to being blunt on their concerns. It’s not so common.

At iDeal Makers, as deal making partners, we don’t want -You- to miss the point.

That’s why, we invite you to “Getting to Know” and to call us to “Getting to Know” how to close your iDeals.


Max Berger

(de)focused negotiator @ iDeal Makers


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