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Can you really 'Separate the People from the Problem'?

View profile for Jonathan Haydn-Williams
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Can you really 'Separate the People from the Problem'? This is the first of four principles of 'Getting to Yes', the seminal book on negotiation by Fisher & Ury. More often than not, when negotiating or mediating a dispute, I find that people are an intrinsic part of the problem and its solution and that separating them from it is the worst thing to do. 

However, once you get beyond that statement of principle, the text is full of helpful advice on recognising the part of the problem that is people's thinking and outlook and how to engage with those aspects, e.g. "Negotiators who represent organisations have personal feelings, fears, hopes and dreams. Their careers may be at stake”. 

After such insights, it's hard to see how the authors could have arrived at their advice to separate those aspects from the problem. Unfortunately, what readers are likely to take away is the 'headline' principle. I suggest taking a pen and replacing it with 'Recognise the People Part of the

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