Fisher and Ury state that a good agreement is smart and effective and improves relations between the parties. Smart agreements serve the interests of the parties and are fair and sustainable. The aim of the authors is to develop a method to obtain good agreements. Negotiations often take place in the form of position negotiations. In position negotiations, each party begins with its position on a subject. The parties then negotiate from their separate opening positions to agree on a position. Bargaining at a price is a typical example of position negotiations. Fisher and Ury argue that position negotiations do not tend to make good deals. This is an ineffective way to reach agreements and agreements tend to neglect the interests of the parties. It promotes stubbornness and thus harms relations between the parties. Substantive negotiations offer a better way to reach good agreements. Fisher and Ury develop four negotiating principles.
Their procedural negotiation process can be used effectively in almost all types of litigation. Their four principles are 1) separate people from the problem; 2) focus on interests, not positions; 3) generate a variety of options before filing an agreement; and 4) insist that the agreement is based on objective criteria. [p. 11] Communication is the third main source of human problems. Negotiators may not be talking to each other, but they may simply represent their electoral districts. The parties may not listen to themselves, but plan their own answers. Even if the parties talk to each other and listen to each other, there may be misunderstandings. To combat these issues, the parties should actively listen. Listeners should pay full attention to the speaker and, on occasion, summarize the spokesperson`s points to confirm their understanding. It is important to remember that understanding the case of the other does not mean approving it. Speakers should focus their speeches on the other parties and continue to focus on what they are trying to communicate.