In every walk of life, we are confronted by situations where our progress depends on whether or not we can get buy-in from the people around us, be it, clients, colleagues, peers, or even in our personal life. Getting past no is an excellent practical book designed to help when the person we are engaging with is being intransigent and acting as a blocker, for no apparent reason.
With that, the author lays out a five-point strategy to get past no. Taken in sequence, these five steps are designed to enable you to pivot from head-to-head confrontation to side-by-side problem solving to maximize the chance of your effectiveness. This starts with not reacting to provocation and if in doubt, slowing down the negotiation and allowing a time for pause.
From there, the author describes how the next step, disarming the other person, involves actively listening to them, acknowledging points they may have, then responding in a way they don’t anticipate, to disarm them. This chapter is fascinating as it describes all the standard communications failures we normally have and outlines through case studies ways to disarm someone through this method. Whilst for skilled negotiators, this chapter will feel obvious, for people who haven’t had a lot of experience here, I highly recommend it.
In the next chapter, he goes through the steps to follow to turn an adversary into an ally, in terms of reframing the debate, so they start to see the situation in a different way, where your viewpoint has validity. To achieve this he recommends asking perspective questions, so designed to challenge the way a person thinks – such as why not, what if, etc. He includes in this section other interesting techniques, where as part of that there is a great anecdote of how Jo Biden early in his political career managed to get Soviet approval on nuclear arms control, despite it being perceived as impossible.
Chapter four deconstructs the process where you build a bridge so you can find a position that both of you can agree on. In this segment he reveals an invaluable insight, that:
“Negotiation is not just a technical problem-solving exercise, but a political process in which the different parties must participate and craft an agreement together.”
To do this means involving the other person’s ideas in the solution, where if you have sticky points, give them choices to clarify their thinking. With that, it is essential to remember to let them save face and back away gracefully, so they don’t feel they have u-turned. Many more great insights in this chapter too.
Then in the final chapter, he outlines the steps to get an agreement. This chapter is by far the most complex, equally, at its essence the key is to help them see their viewpoint needs to change, where as it does, so the opportunity to find common ground increases. This final chapter is tellingly called, bring them to their senses, not to their knees.
At 146 pages, this is more of a reference handbook than a deep read, none the less, I highly recommend it for anyone who has to actively negotiate as part of their job and is feeling they could be doing better. The steps laid out are a simple framework, equally followed correctly, I have no doubt they will help with effectiveness.