Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

by Roger Fisher, Bruce Patton, and others. Penguin Books, 2011.

'Getting to Yes' is based on answering a question that many congregational decision-makers face: what is the best way for people to deal with their differences? It suggests a process of "principled negotiation," or looking for mutual gains whenever possible.

The authors’ first bit of advice is never to begin negotiating from a position on how the problem should be solved. When we bargain this way, we tend to hold tight to our wishes, making the whole negotiation a contest of wills. Rather, they suggest that we focus on 'interests'—what are our real needs, desires, concerns, fears? To understand our interests means that we are getting underneath our position, down to our primary motivations. At the same time, we should not confuse the people with whom we are negotiating with the problem itself. We then need to look for areas of mutual gain—which are likely to come from shared interests.

The authors also address problems in negotiating—including what to do if others use dirty tricks or refuse to negotiate. While we don’t like to think any of these situations occur in congregations, they probably do. And when they do, this book provides some helpful advice on how to deal with them.

'Getting to Yes' is likely to be a powerful resource for congregational laity, clergy, and administrators involved in negotiations on behalf of their communities of faith.