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Getting to yes is not enough

Stéphane Royer

Ferring /

Doctor DBA, Business Science Institute

(DBA Thesis supervised by Prof. Michelle Bergadaà)


During our face-to-face Masterclasses, during the first negotiations, during the first simulations, nearly 80% of the students manage to get an agreement. They get a yes, they shake hands, and they believe they have a deal. But in fact, there's a little secret I'd like to share with you.

What happens is that when the negotiators get a yes, they think the negotiation is over. And when I ask them just one or two questions, they very quickly realize that their deal was not what they thought it was.

If you have children, you know that yes has no value in negotiation. For example, like many parents, I struggle to get my son to clean his room. So every time I ask him, he obviously says "yes," but nothing happens.

So one time I tried our formalization technique, and I asked my son:

"Would you please clean your room?" And he said, "Yes, Daddy."

"When?" I asked.

"As soon as I finish this cartoon."

"Okay, the cartoon is 10 minutes long, so you'll start in 10 minutes?"


"OKAY. What will you start with?"

"There are a lot of games on the floor? So I'll start with that.

"Yes. Good idea. So in 10 minutes, you start by putting away games on the floor?"

"How long would that take?".

You get the idea. Simply put, Yes has no value. That's the secret.

Most of the time, people say "yes" out of politeness, or they say "yes" to their version of the deal, according to our research nearly 75% of the time. So the secret is that the yes is the beginning of the negotiation, not the end. When you get a yes, that's the signal that the real negotiation begins, and you're actually going to negotiate the "how," how you're going to implement that "yes."

So the next time you get a "yes", immediately think about the "how". How are you going to implement that yes? Who is going to do what and how? By when? In what time frame?

This is where the real negotiation is. If you forget this step, you are setting yourself up for unpleasant surprises, and even worse, very often for an escalation of the conflict, because each party thought they had come out of the negotiation with an agreement that they perceived as common and validated.


To be discovered...

"The secrets of negotiation" By Dr. Stéphane Royer

Researcher, Negotiator, Speaker, Mediator and Teacher


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