Book Review: “Getting to Yes”

Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving InGETTING TO YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher and William Ury, with Bruce Patton for revised editions
(Penguin Book, 2011 edition)

Book Review by Marguerite Langlois

With this book review, I want to pay tribute to Roger Fisher, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, who died August 25 at 90 years old, still engaged in his work. He played a role in drafting the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel and in ending apartheid in South Africa.


Getting to Yes was first published in 1981, has been translated into many languages, and has been in constant print since that time. In 1983, Ury, Fisher, and Patton, building on seminal work they had done on conflict resolution, founded the Harvard Project on Negotiation. While they all have engaged in national and international negotiations, their focus is the conviction that negotiation and conflict resolution skills are badly needed in our world at all levels, from individuals through families and communities to international relations.

…this is not about giving up who we are or what we want or need; it’s about finding a path that works for us.

Getting to Yes is a road map, a practical down-to-earth primer, and a thoughtful discussion on conflict in all of our lives. It guides readers through a step-by-step process, based on “using principles, not positions,” for working through large and small issues, with multiple examples. As we all know, aging brings its own conflicts – perhaps with families and friends, with individuals and groups of people involved in our lives, and with institutions and organizations. I’ve used the book in teaching for many years, and each time I do, I am both encouraged and comforted by its reassurance that this is something we can get through. I like the subtitle too: “Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.” In other words, this is not about giving up who we are or what we want or need; it’s about finding a path that works for us.

Getting to Yes was the first publication of this group; there is now a whole series of books (all in paperback) on various aspects of conflict resolution and building strengths for ourselves in the process: Getting Together: Building Relationships As We Negotiate; Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most; The Third Side: Why We Fight and How We Can Stop; and others. You can find them at your favorite bookstore and see the complete list on the Project on Negotiation website (


Find this book!

Seattle Public Library:



We'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s