Negotiations for Getting Together


To the Editors of The Crimson:

Your headline on page 2 of Saturday's Crimson ("Sex at Harvard: Getting to Yes," April 4) caught the eye of those of us in the business of Getting to Yes. I'll leave the discourse on "sex at Harvard" to the people who tend to write letters like, "I never thought I'd be writing you this letter, but I want to share an amazing..." I can speculate that if we could solve the problem of "getting to yes," General Education 174 would be a pretty damn popular class.

Luckily, the Harvard Negotiation Project has good questions to ask and helpful, prescriptive advice for even the randiest reader. Why? Two words: We care.

For instance:

1. Think about alternatives: What's their BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement)? What's ours? Can they be changed?


2. What are our interests? What are theirs? (If you can't answer this question, you have no business getting anywhere near yes.)

3. Are there other Options available? Are we advocating an elegant, no-waste solution?

4. Is this agreement legitimate for all? No one feels taken?

5. Are the commitments well-planned, realistic and operational?

6. Is there effective communication? Is the process efficient?

and, most importantly--

7. Does the process help build the kind of relationship we want?

Usually, advice like this costs a ton of money. Readers of this letter are lucky: They can get this and more for $8.95 when they buy Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Penguin Books, 1981). You'll have to excuse me now; I think I hear the folks from Science B-29 knocking at my office door. Paul O. Mayer '88   Teaching Fellow, Gen. Ed. 174