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Strategy for Negotiating with an Uncooperative, Intransigent Opponent According To: in Getting Past No

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In Getting Past No, William and Ury presents a five-step strategy for negotiating with an uncooperative, intransigent opponent. People may behave badly in negotiations out of anger or fear, because they don’t know any more effective way to behave, because they don’t see any benefit from negotiating, or because they see asserting their own power as the only alternative to being dominated. Intransigent behaviors are likely to provoke an angry response, and so the effective negotiator faces the additional challenge of controlling their own reactions. In the book, Ury describes the conditions that prevent people from getting to agreement, including their own reactions, their emotions, their position, their dissatisfaction and their power.

  1. Don’t react, go to the balcony – The first step in bringing the other party around to more effective negotiating behavior is controlling one’s own behavior. The book recommends using “Go to balcony strategy”. When faced with a difficult opponent, the opposite party should keep their focus on underlying interest and BATNA. Also they should keep their mental balance by viewing the situation objectively. It advices us to take a moment to recognize the tactics our opponent is using, and to recognize our own feelings and “hot button” issues. 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.
  2. Don’t reject, reframe – It suggests us to use the power of asking open-ended, problem solving-oriented questions. Ask “why” questions to elicit the opponent’s interests. If they resist, ask them “why not” questions about alternative solutions.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Author Ury identifies five barriers to such cooperation. (1) Your own emotional reaction to the adversary’s conduct. (2) The other side’s emotion, which might include anger, hostility, fear, distrust, or the feeling that they are right and you are wrong. (3) their desire to avoid losing face by accepting your proposals. (4) Their power and lack of interest in cooperating. The goal is to win them over, so that they become partners in a shared problem solving process. The Breakthrough Negotiation method canonizes and synthesizes some of the most important techniques and ideas in conflict management.

The overall message I received from “Getting Past No” is that negotiation is a process and ritual. To succeed one must:

  • Identify your adversary’s tactics.
  • Identify and control your own visceral response.
  • Be the adult and try to guide the other side to a sensible outcome.
  • Stay focused on the goal: to improve upon your likely alternative to settlement.

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Strategy for negotiating with an uncooperative, intransigent opponent according to: In Getting Past No. (2018, December 17). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 20, 2021, from
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