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Menlo Book Club: Getting to Yes

White book titled "Getting to Yes" on wood table
White book titled "Getting to Yes" on wood table

As a commercial real estate team, a big part of our roles is negotiating on behalf of our clients. To improve our skills, we recently read Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury, and we wanted to share a summary of what we learned and discussed.

Principled Negotiation

All of us negotiate in our personal and professional lives, so when we do, it’s important that we focus on our principles. Too many people engage in positional bargaining where their only goal is their desired outcome. Principled negotiation instead seeks to maintain a relationship with the other party, while also pursuing individual interests. We should never attack others’ positions but instead try to discover the reasoning behind their thought processes.

When we negotiate on behalf of our clients, we need to ask questions, so we can truly understand our clients’ needs and advocate on their behalf. Negotiations are not a fixed pie, and we can always find creative solutions that lead to mutual gain.


The authors stress the importance of determining your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). BATNA is defined as the most desirable alternative if negotiations fail. Examples of BATNAs in commercial real estate include:

  • If the landlord cannot agree to these terms, I will relocate my business to this other industrial complex.
  • If no contractor can complete my proposed project within my budget, I will forgo my office remodel.

Before beginning negotiations, we have committed to helping our clients determine their BATNA. BATNA provides power during negotiations and prevents acceptance of an unfavorable deal.

Discussion Questions

Is your team reading Getting to Yes? Here are some questions to inspire your discussion:

  1. How would you describe your current negotiation style?
  2. How can you better uncover the other party’s motivating interests?
  3. If you have used BATNA in a negotiation, what was the result?
  4. What do you do when the other sides tries to use dirty tricks during negotiations?

We enjoyed Getting to Yes and look forward to continuing to reflect on these negotiation tips and put them into practice.

Menlo Group meets twice a month for our company book club. Check out what else we’ve been reading or sign up for our Virtual Book Club to receive discussion questions and insights right to your inbox.

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