Monday, February 16, 2015

Getting to Yes with Yourself and Other Worthy Opponents

How is Your Own Stuff Affecting the Negotiation?

Bill Ury has published a new book: Getting to Yes with Yourself and Other Worthy Opponents.  I've not read it yet.  But, as the big storm of 2015 began dropping snowflakes on Grundy, I watched an hour-long video featuring Ury at a Google-sponsored event during which he describes the book, tells several stories as examples, and engages the audience in a discussion and a role-play.

First,  I do love the "getting" series of books.  I've read them all.  I have assigned Getting to Yes to all my students over the last thirteen years of my teaching career.  In another week, my current students will start reading it.  I use Getting Disputes Resolved in my Arbitration seminar, partly because it refers to a labor dispute in a coal mine located not far from the Appalachian School of Law.  I also use it because it was one of the first books written on dispute resolution system design.   Power of a Positive No: Save the Deal Save the Relationship and Still Say No is a very helpful guide for "other-oriented" folks who have a hard time saying "no" (especially 2s on the enneagram). So, I'll order Ury's new book and fly through, I'm sure.

Second, I was pleased to see him raise the topic of managing ourselves in the negotiation process.  Too often we blame the other side for the impasse or challenges of negotiation.  He suggests, by referring back to the advice of an earlier book, to "go to the balcony," that we have a responsibility to ourselves, our clients, and the other party to take an appropriate time-out to assess what is going on completely within ourselves -- emotions, psychological triggers, deep identity quakes, insecurities, the need to be right, and so on.

I discuss all these factors in my courses, especially the upper level mediation course.  That course coverage falls under the category of "empowerment," as far as I am concerned.  I teach students to avoid blaming others and instead help them begin a life of accepting their contribution to any difficult situation, taking responsibility for missteps, offering apologies, and forgiving freely. 

But, Ury said something else in the video that resonates because of the three years I have spent in the coaching programs offered by Christine Kane.  Ury told the story of working with two very successful European businessmen after their partnership dissolved into blame, fights over control, and expensive litigation. 

He engaged in a deeper-level intervention with one of the businessmen, asking him to look deeply into his heart (my words, not Ury's) to discover what he truly wanted.  Ury asked this man to get very clear about his own needs.  Once Ury heard that the businessman most wanted "freedom" to pursue his own interests, businesses, and family life, Ury asked him how he could get that need met without any permission or participation by the estranged partner.  With that clarity, the businessmen negotiated an agreement in a very short time.  Lovely.  We often fail to see the control we have over our own success and happiness. 

Finally, how does Ury maintain that broad smile as he talks?  As those of you who have watched my webinars know, this is a trick I have not yet mastered.  My heart is in the right place, but I just can't do it all at once: concentrate, talk, and smile!

I hope you find a rewarding way to spend this snow day. 

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