Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton

Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher

Getting to Yes, written by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton, is a seminal work in the field of negotiation and conflict resolution. Published in 1981, this influential book has since become a classic, providing readers with invaluable insights and practical strategies for achieving mutually beneficial outcomes in any negotiation scenario. In this comprehensive review, we will explore the historical context surrounding the book’s publication, key facts about the work, the major and minor characters involved, and the profound impact it has had on the realm of negotiation.

Historical Context:

The release of Getting to Yes in 1981 occurred during a period of global geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties. The Cold War was still ongoing, with the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a protracted arms race. Additionally, various regions of the world faced conflicts and diplomatic challenges. Against this backdrop, the authors sought to provide a fresh perspective on resolving disputes and finding common ground in the midst of adversity.

The 1980s also marked a time of economic transformation, with the rise of globalization and increased international trade. As businesses and organizations navigated complex relationships and agreements, the need for effective negotiation skills became increasingly apparent. Getting to Yes offered a timely response to these challenges, presenting a new approach to negotiation that focused on collaboration and mutual gains.

Key Facts:

Getting to Yes advocates the “principled negotiation” method, emphasizing the importance of separating people from the problem, focusing on interests rather than positions, generating options, and insisting on objective criteria.
The book introduces the concept of BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement), which encourages negotiators to understand their alternatives and leverage them in negotiations.

It emphasizes the significance of preserving relationships and promoting positive communication, even in adversarial situations.

The authors draw on their experiences at the Harvard Negotiation Project to illustrate real-life examples and case studies, making the concepts accessible and applicable to a wide range of scenarios.
Over the years, Getting to Yes has been translated into numerous languages and remains a bestseller, captivating readers across cultures and professions.

Major Characters:

Roger Fisher: As one of the co-authors, Roger Fisher is a prominent figure in the field of negotiation and conflict resolution. His work at the Harvard Negotiation Project laid the foundation for the book’s principles and strategies.

William Ury: Another co-author, William Ury is a highly regarded mediator, academic, and negotiator. His contributions to the book’s concepts and approach have solidified his reputation as a leading expert in the field.

Bruce Patton: The third co-author, Bruce Patton, has been an integral part of the Harvard Negotiation Project. His expertise in negotiation and collaboration is reflected in the book’s practical and actionable advice.

Minor Characters:

Harvard Negotiation Project Members: The book draws on insights from various members of the Harvard Negotiation Project, showcasing real-life negotiations and experiences.

Individuals Involved in Case Studies: Throughout the book, the authors present case studies involving individuals and organizations engaged in complex negotiations, illustrating the principles in action.


In conclusion, Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton stands as a groundbreaking work that has transformed the landscape of negotiation and conflict resolution. Set against the backdrop of global geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties, the book arrived as a timely response to the challenges of navigating complex relationships and agreements.

Through its principled negotiation approach, Getting to Yes has equipped countless readers with the skills to achieve win-win outcomes in negotiations, fostering collaboration and preserving relationships. The book’s emphasis on separating people from the problem and focusing on interests rather than positions has transcended cultures and professions, making it a timeless and universal resource for negotiators worldwide.

As major characters in the development of the principled negotiation method, Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton have left a lasting legacy. Their work at the Harvard Negotiation Project and their dedication to promoting peaceful and effective dispute resolution have shaped the modern understanding of negotiation.

In conclusion, Getting to Yes remains an indispensable guide for anyone seeking to navigate negotiations with clarity, empathy, and success, making it a cornerstone in the realm of negotiation literature for decades to come.