“Turning Adversaries into Partners” is Part III of William Ury’s book, Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations (New York: Bantam, 2007), pp. 157-171. I strongly encourage you buy and seriously study Ury’s book.
Ury says the theme throughout your negotiation is to “…treat your opponent with respect-not as an object to be pushed, but as a person to be persuaded. Your goal is not to win over them, but to win them over.” Ury further explains that in order to accomplish this goal, “…you need to resist normal human temptations and do the opposite of what you naturally feel like doing. You need to suspend your reaction when you feel like striking back, to listen when you feel like talking back, to ask questions when you feel like telling your opponent the answers, to bridge your differences when you feel like pushing for your way, and to educate when you feel like escalating.” Getting Past No, p. 160. Achieving these aspirations presents a great challenge to most lawyers. Ury provides five steps to accomplish these goals and have successful negotiations:
- Go to the Balcony. “The first step is not to control the other person’s behavior. It is to control your own. When the other person says no or launches an attack, you may be stunned into giving in or counterattacking.” Try to suspend your normal reaction, buy yourself some time and reflect on your interests and BATNA and those of the other party. “Instead of getting mad or getting even, focus on getting what you want. Don’t react: Go to the balcony.” Getting Past No, p. 169.
- Step to Their Side. Create a favorable climate, by defusing the anger, fear and suspicion on the other side. “They expect you to attack or to resist. So do the opposite. Listen to them, acknowledge their points, and agree with them wherever you can. Acknowledge their authority and competence too. Don’t argue: Step to their side.” Getting Past No, p. 169.
- Reframe. When the other side takes a hard-line position, “direct their attention to the challenges of meeting each side’s interests.” Reframe what they say and ask questions such as, “Why is it that you want that?” or “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” “Rather than trying to teach the other side yourself, let the problem be their teacher. Don’t reject: Reframe.” Getting Past No, p. 170.
- Build Them a Golden Bridge. If the other party stalls, do not push and resist, thus causing them to harden their stance. “Instead, do the opposite-draw them in the direction you would like them to go. Think of yourself as a mediator whose job is to make it easy for them to say yes. Involve them in the process, incorporating their ideas. Try to identify and satisfy their unmet interests, particularly their basic human needs. Help them save face and make the outcome appear as victory for them. Don’t push: Build them a golden bridge.” Getting Past No, p. 170.
- Use Power to Educate. “If the other side still resists and thinks they can win without negotiating, you need to educate them to the contrary. ….educate them about the costs of not agreeing. Ask reality-testing questions, warn rather than threaten, and demonstrate your BATNA. Make sure they know the golden bridge is always open. Don’t escalate: Use power to educate.” Getting Past No, pp. 170, 171.
Ury says turn your adversary into a partner. “It takes two to tangle, but it takes only one to begin to untangle a knotty situation. It is within your power to transform even your most difficult relationships. Your greatest power is the power to change the game-from face-to-face confrontation to side-by-side joint problem-solving.” Getting Past No, p. 171.
Negotiation Tip: Bad words isolate. Good words connect. A negotiator’s tone of voice can determine if a word is perceived as good or bad.