“Getting Past No” Essay, Research Paper
Each of us has to face tough negotiation with an irritable spouse, an ornery boss, a rigid
salesperson, or a tricky customer. Under stress, even kind, reasonable people turn into angry, intractable
In order to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement in an efficient and amicable fashion, this book
introduces us the strategy of breakthrough negotiation. The breakthrough strategy is counterintuitive: it
requires us to do the opposite of what we might naturally do in difficult situations. In addition, the essence
of the breakthrough strategy is indirect action. Rather than trying to break down opponent’s resistance, we
make it easier for him to break through it themselves. In short, breakthrough negotiation is the art of letting
the other person have our ways.
(1) STEP ONE: Don’t React \ Go To The Balcony
The first step we need to do in dealing with a difficult person is not to control his behavior but to
control our own. Because when we react-act without thinking, we usually neglect our interests.
“Going to the balcony” means distancing ourselves from our natural impulses and emotions. From the
balcony we can calmly evaluate the conflict, think constructively for both sides, and look for a mutually
satisfactory way to resolve the problem.
One the balcony, the first thing we need to do is figure out our interests. We also need to identify our
BATNA- our Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. The agreement must satisfy our interests better
than our BATNA could. Our BATNA should be our measuring stick for evaluating any potential
Often we do not even realize we are reacting, because we are too enmeshed in the situation. Therefore, we
need to recognize the tactic. Make a mental note when we detect a possible trick or subtle attack. By
naming the game, we are able to neutralize it easily.
Once we have named the game and stop our immediate reaction, the next step is to buy ourselves time to
think-time to go to the balcony. Use the time to keep our eyes on the prize-an agreement that satisfies your
interests, certainly better than our BATNA can. Instead of getting mad or getting even, concentrate on
getting what we want. This is what going to the balcony is all about.
(2) STEP TWO: Disarm Them \ Step To Their Side
Before we can discuss the problem with the opponent, we need to disarm him. The secret of
disarming is surprise. To disarm our opponent, we need to do the opposite of what he expects: step to his
side, listen to him, acknowledge his point, and agree wherever we can.
Listening requires patience and self- discipline. Instead of reacting immediately or plotting our
next step, we have to remain focused on what our counterpart is saying. Listening gives us a chance to
engage him in a cooperative task-that of understanding his problem. It makes him more willing to listen to
After listening to our opponent, the next step is to acknowledge his point. Acknowledging the opponent’s
point does not mean that we agree with it. It means that we accept it as one valid point of view among
The next step is to agree wherever we can. It is hard to attack someone who agrees with us.
(3) STEP THREE: Don’t Reject \ Reframe
Instead of rejecting our opponent’s position, we need to direct his attention to the problem of
meeting each side’s interests. Reframing works because every message is subject to interpretation. It means
putting a problem-solving frame around our opponent’s positional statements. A problem-solving question
focuses attention on the interests of each side, the options for satisfying them, and the standards of fairness
for resolving differences. Rather than trying to teach him ourselves, let the problem be his teacher.
(4) STEP FOUR: Make It Easy To Say Yes \ Build Them A Golden Bridge
At last we are ready to negotiate; however, our opponent may stall. Instead of pushing our
opponent toward an agreement, we need to do the opposite. Our job is to build a golden bridge across the
Building a golden bridge means making it easier for our opponent to overcome the four common
obstacles to agreement: it means actively involving him in devising a solution so that it becomes his idea,
not just ours; it means satisfying his unmet interests; it means helping him save face; it means making the
process of negotiation as easy as possible.
(5) STEP FIVE: Make It Hard To Say No \ Bring Them To Their Senses, Not Their Knees
Once our opponent still resists and thinks he can win without negotiation, our natural temptation is
to abandon the problem-solving game and turn it to the power game. However, unless we have a decisive
power advantage, the opponent usually resist and fight back. Even if we win the battle, we may lose the
war. In the process we may destroy our relation with our opponent. And he will often find a way to renege
or retaliate the next time he is in a better power position.
Overcoming the power paradox means making it easier for our opponent to say yes at the same
time that we make it harder for him to say no. We should treat the exercise of power as an integral part of
the problem-solving negotiation. Instead of seeking victory, we should aim for mutual satisfaction.
We should use power to “educate” our opponent. We need to convince him that he is wrong. We
could ask him reality-testing questions designed to get him to think through the impact of not reaching
agreement. Than the next step is to use a direct statement of what will happen-a warning. However, we
need to be careful not to threaten the opponent.
If our opponent ignores our warning, we will need to take the next step: demonstrate our BATNA.
Use it only if necessary and minimize his resistance by exercising restraint and reassuring him that our goal
is mutual satisfaction, not victory. We need to remind our opponent continually that the golden bridge is
always open to him.
When I confront with difficult people, I intend to stop communication with them. Because I think
it is useless and time-wasting to negotiate with an irrational person. However, I am also damaged by doing
so because it is impossible to refuse anyone whom I do not like to talk to. It seems that I always react
immediately and adopt the BATNA that is described in the book.
After reading this book, I realize that it is possible to remove obstacle in the negotiation and
achieve the win-win results. Even drive a bargain with a car dealer, I could use strategies taught by the
book, too. Negotiation is the art. I seldom notice that before. This book provides me the practicable
strategies and sharp examples that will help me to improve my relationship with others.