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  • Writer's pictureDavid de Souza

'Getting to Yes' 80/20 Summary

  • Score: 6/10

  • Category: Negotiation

  • Mental Models: Anchoring, Consistency, Ego, Emotions, First Principles, Identity, Leverage, Listening, Vividness, Zero-Sum Games


The Mental Models Within the Book

1. Anchoring

There are many criteria that you can use to anchor negotiations in your favor including:

  • Market value

  • What a court would decide

  • Precedents

  • Moral standards

  • Scientific judgment

  • Equal treatment

  • Costs

2. Consistency

When possible, mention precedents and past practices, as something you have done before is less likely to be contested.

3. Ego

Don't defend Your Ideas, invite criticism and ask for advice. Ask: "What concerns would you have with this idea..."

Use the phrase: "Correct me if I am wrong". It shows you are open. If they don't correct you, it implies that you are correct.

4. Emotions:

Emotions are triggered by 5 core human interests:

  • Autonomy - The desire to make independent choices.

  • Appreciation - The desire to be appreciated, valued, and recognized.

  • Affiliation - The desire to be part of some group.

  • Role - The desire to have a meaningful purpose.

  • Status - The desire to be seen and given acknowledgment

Threats are usually ill-advised as they lead to counter threats. Warnings are better as they are less likely to cause counter-threats.

Provide a justification so that the person can save face.

Diffuse confrontation and emotions by using these phrases:

  • "Correct me if I am wrong"

  • "I appreciate what you've done"

  • "Our concern is fairness"

  • "Could I ask a few questions to see if my facts are right?"

  • "Let me see if I understand what you are saying"

  • "Let me get back to you"

  • "One fair solution might be...."

  • Avoid using "But" as it creates tension by negating what you just said. Start a new sentence instead like this: "This is not a matter of trust. The issue is the principle"

5. First Principles

Focus on interests, not position. Don't attack their position, look behind it. Don't reject or accept it, Treat it as an option. Look for the principles that reflect their position and look for ways to improve it that might help both of you.

Agree on principles before agreeing on terms.

If someone gives you a price, ask how they arrived at that figure.

6. Identity

If someone acts defensive (or different from how they normally are) it could be because something you have said is a threat to their identity.

People will become defensive if you say something they feel is untrue. Don't say: You are a racist. Say: I feel discriminated against.

7. Leverage

Each principle the other side agrees to becomes a lever that you can use to persuade.

8. Listening

You will be listened to and your interests are taken into account if the other person feels like they have been listened to and they have felt understood. People think that people who understand them are more sympathetic and more intelligent, and their opinions are worth listening to.

Show that you are listening by asking: "Did I understand correctly that you are saying....?"

9. Vividness

Make your interests vivid, specific, and concrete.

10. Zero-Sum Games

If you want to find ways to dovetail your interests, you need to know what your counterpart's preferences are.

Look for things that are low cost to you and high benefit to them.


Let me know how these summaries can be improved? Contact me via Email ( or on Twitter.

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