20 Magnificent Roger Fisher Quotes

Roger Fisher is the co-author of the book ‘Getting to Yes.’ With more than a million copies sold and translated in more than 18 languages, Fisher contributes his knowledge and strategies to coming to mutually acceptable agreements in just about every kind of conflict. Here is a look at some of the most memorable Roger Fisher quotes ever documented.

“A fundamental way to increase your negotiation power is by improving your walk-away alternative.”

“A good negotiator rarely makes an important decision on the spot. A little time and distance help separate the people from the problem.”

“A note of sympathy, a statement of regret, a visit to cemetery, delivering a small present for a grandchild, shaking hands or embracing, eating together–all may be priceless opportunities to improve a hostile emotional situation at small cost.”

“An open mind is not an empty one.”

“Any method of negotiation may be fairly judged by three criteria: It should produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible. It should be efficient. And it should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties.”

“As useful as looking for objective reality can be, it is ultimately the reality as each side sees it that constitutes the problem in a negotiation and opens the way to a solution.”


“In any negotiation there exist realities that are hard to change.”

“Invent several options all equally acceptable to you and ask the other side which one they prefer. You want to know what is preferable, not necessarily what is acceptable. You can then take that option, work with it some more, and again present two or more variants, asking which one they prefer.”

“People facing each other tend to respond personally and engage in dialogue or argument; people sitting side by side in a semicircle of chairs facing a black-board tend to respond to the problem depicted there.”

“People listen better if they feel that you have understood them. They tend to think that those who understand them are intelligent and sympathetic people whose own opinions may be worth listening to. So if you want the other side to appreciate your interests, begin by demonstrating that you appreciate theirs.”

“Standard techniques of good listening are to pay close attention to what is said, to ask the other party to spell out carefully and clearly exactly what they mean, and to request that ideas be repeated if there is any ambiguity or uncertainty.”

“Suggest some options, such as negotiating through third parties, sending letters, or encouraging private individuals like journalists to discuss the issues.”

“The four points of Principled Negotiation (Negotiation on the Merits): People: Separate the people from the problem. Interest: Focus on interest, not positions. Options: Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do. Criteria: Insist that the result be based on some objective standard.”

“The game of negotiation takes place at two levels. At one level, negotiation addresses the substance; at another, it focuses—usually implicitly—on the procedure for dealing with the substance.”

“The method of principled negotiation is hard on the merits, soft on the people. It employs no tricks and no posturing. Principled negotiation shows you how to obtain what you are entitled to and still be decent. It enables you to be fair while protecting you against those who would take advantage of your fairness.”

“The more attention that is paid to positions, the less attention is devoted to meeting the underlying concerns of the parties.”

“The more extreme the opening positions and the smaller the concessions, the more time and effort it will take to discover whether or not agreement is possible.”

“The more quickly you can turn a stranger into someone you know, the easier a negotiation is likely to become. The time to develop such a relationship is before the negotiation begins. Get to know them and find out about their likes and dislikes. Find ways to meet them informally. Try arriving early to chat before the negotiation is scheduled to start, and linger after it ends.”

“The more you clarify your position and defend it against attack, the more committed you become to it.”

“Usually, an offer should not come as a surprise. It should be a natural outgrowth of the discussion so far. It need not be a”take-it-or-leave-it” proposal.”

Here is a great Ted Talk shared by the co-author William Ury as he discusses the best ways to seek agreements in the most difficult kind of situations.

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