Analysis, prevention, containment and resolution of conflicts (II)

In an earlier post we discussed the topic in an introductory way. In the article that we present today we will speak with some more detail of one of the strategies of negotiation more interesting.

William Ury, co-founder of Harvard’s negotiation program, proposes a five-step strategy, which he calls “Penetration Negotiation Strategy.”


“Before you think about the strategy you should follow, the first thing to do is to prepare. The secret of success in negotiations is simple: to prepare, prepare and prepare. ”

Once the barriers are identified, Ury proposes the strategy that must be applied to face each of them:

  • If the barrier is our reaction: Do not react – “go to the balcony”
  • If the barrier is the emotions of the other party: Do not argue – stand on the side of our opponent
  • If the barrier is the positions of the other party: Do not reject – rethink
  • If the barrier is discontent of the other party: Do not press – to stretch a golden bridge
  • If the barrier is the power of the other party: Do not attack – use the power to educate

1) Go to the balcony

When they tell us or do something that bothers us, we usually have three possible reactions: counterattack, give in, or break relationships. None leads us where we want. When you are in a difficult situation it is recommended: take things slowly, think calmly and analyze things objectively. For this, imagine that the discussion takes place on a stage and that you RISE TO THE BALCONY, which allows you to see the stage, which means to get away from your natural impulses and emotions.

The goal of this first strategy is for you to regain your mental balance and concentrate on what you want. For this, Ury proposes three behaviors: identify the game (the tactics that are applying to it), consider its vulnerabilities and take time to think.

To “identify the game,” Ury comments on the three types of tactics that more often apply:

  • A “stone wall”; His opponent will try to convince him that his position can not be changed; Typical expressions are: “I can not do anything, it’s the company’s policy”, “It’s what we agreed with our sponsors”;
  • Attacks: They are pressure tactics to intimidate you and make you feel uncomfortable, to the point where you prefer to give in to the demands. They can be threats such as: “If they do not accept they run the risk of …”; To attack their position: “Their figures do not coincide with reality”; Or question his authority: “We wish to speak with a superior of you”;
  • Tricks: They are tactics aimed at deceiving you into giving you away. They work on the basis that you assume that the counterpart acts in good faith and tells the truth; Or manipulating or hiding information; Or by using the “no authority” trick; Or “adding things”, last minute demands after you believe that “I was all awake.”

Any tactics that apply to us will only have an effect if we allow ourselves to be influenced.

2) Putting next of the other part (at the side of our opponent)

For this, it is necessary to differentiate the parties, identifying the relevant actors. Then the hostile emotions of the opponent should be made to create a favorable climate, designing a strategy to get on their side, often doing the opposite of what your opponent expects:

Not arguing. Listening actively: Listen more than talk. Listen to understand, not to refute. To paraphrase, to summarize.

Access every time you can: Affirm in first person. Express feelings without reproach. Replace “but” with “yes … and …”. To accumulate oneself, being soft with people, but hard with the problem.

Recognize the person: Your point of view. Feelings. Your suitability. Your prestige. End the adversary by becoming a partner in the negotiation. “Maybe I do not eliminate my opponents when I make them my friends?”

3) Stake out

Do not refuse, rethink. Accept what they say and rethink it to face the problem. Why? Help me understand your motivations … What would you do with it? Why not? What’s wrong with ….?

Clarifying the motivations: “If I’m not mistaken, their motivations are …” Usually the real motivations are hidden in the discourse. “Where the tero sings, eggs are never found.”

Distinguish positions of motivations. The motivations are:

  • Aspirations
  • Concerns
  • Potentials
  • Interest
  • Shortcomings
  • Fears
  • Values
  • Needs
  • Wishes,…

4) Laying a bridge

Try to save the emptiness. Helping the other party to succeed, to get away from the situation, negotiation or conflict. Although we have agreed with our interlocutor to solve the problem together, you may not be convinced of the benefits of the agreement. In that case, we must “To establish a bridge of gold” or to propose a satisfactory solution for both parties.

The resistance of our opponent can manifest itself in several ways: lack of interest in our proposals, ambiguous approaches, delays, non-compliance or a direct negative.

Their most common reasons are usually four:

  1. It’s no idea of ​​him. Our opponent is likely to reject our proposal because he did not think of it first. We must include the opponent, incorporate their ideas, make them participate. That he feels the solution.
  2. Interest not satisfied. We may not have perceived one of our opponent’s most important interests.
  3. Fear of looking bad. Nobody wants to look bad before the people he represents. We must help the opponent to save face.
  4. Very soon. Our opponent is likely to resist considering the prospect of an agreement as overwhelming. The decision is too important and the time is too short. Maybe it’s easier for him to say no. We must facilitate the process by dividing it in stages. Pause after each stage and evaluate progress.

5) Use the power to educate

Educate, not win. Prove to the other party that you can not win without your help.

Although we have made every possible effort, the other party could still refuse to cooperate, if he believes he can win us with the power game. We also have to use power, but not to press, but to educate. Not threatening, which is often counterproductive, but to educate. We must show the other side that it can not win on its own, but only together with us.

We must emphasize, first, the cost of not reaching agreement and, secondly, the benefits of achieving such an agreement. Make him see the consequences. If our opponent does not understand the consequences of not reaching an agreement, we must make him see his gravity.

Demonstrate our MAPAN (Best alternative to a negotiated agreement). If our opponent ignores the warnings, we should try to convince him of our power by demonstrating our MAPAN. A demonstration serves to convince you of what we plan to do without having to put it into practice. It is a way of educating our opponent with minimal cost to us and with minimal damage to him.

The best, after not using the MAPAN, is to use it as little as possible. We must use the minimum power necessary to convince our opponent to return to the negotiating table. Usually, this means exhausting all alternatives before launching the attack.


If you want to know a little bit more … [see more bibliography in the previous post on the subject]


Ury, W.L. (2005) Alcanzar la paz: Resolución de conflictos y mediación en la familia, el trabajo y el mundo. Paidos.

Ury, W. (2007) Supere el no: cómo negociar con personas que adoptan posiciones inflexibles. (3ª edición). Ediciones Gestión 2000.

Ury, W. (2007) El poder de un no positivo. Como decir no y sin embargo llegar al si. Ediciones Granica.

Ury, W. (2015) Obtenga el si consigo mismo. Superar los obstáculos interiores para negociar con éxito. Conecta.

Notes of the course “Contenció de conflictes” given at the Corporació Sanitària Parc Taulí from 8 to 23 November 2016 by Jordi Grané Ortega.