`Getting to Yes' does not mean just signing something
Success at this week's summit meeting in Washington will not be measured by the number of agreements reached, negotiation expert Roger D. Fisher says. It will ``be determined by how well [Reagan and Gorbachev] give direction for the work to be done - not the answers,'' says law professor Fisher, director of the Harvard Negotiation Project and co-author of ``Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.'' Last October's summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, ``worked fantastically well - for the first day and a half.'' The problem came, Fisher says, when the leaders said, ``This is going so well, why don't we try to sign something?'' After initial optimism, the meeting ended on a grim note, with both sides trading accusations later as to who had scuttled the summit.
Reykjavik was a great brainstorming session, Fisher says, but the two leaders should have known to ``separate the inventing from the committing.'' They should have left all the options on the table and let their negotiating teams take over, he says.
A basic tenet of negotiating is separating ``positions'' from ``concerns,'' according to Fisher: ``It's much better to say `What are your concerns?''' He urges discarding ``the notion that negotiation is positions. It really is joint problem-solving.'' For example, Fisher says, ``It's silly to argue whether `star wars' is good or bad,'' he says. ``The research will continue.'' It's better to explore ``Where are some potential lines of restraint?''
Fisher was in Moscow last June with a delegation from the Lawyers Alliance for Nuclear Arms Control. They met with the Association of Soviet Lawyers and some Soviet scientists to try to work out mutually agreeable limits on star-wars research. The Soviets have an advantage, Fisher says, in that ``they're concerned with substance. Americans tend to be distracted from problem-solving by speaking to multiple audiences.''
President Reagan has to take into account how his hawkish constituency will respond, how the media will respond, how the US Congress will respond - particularly the Senate, which must ratify all treaties. But Fisher is persuaded that Gorbachev ``really wants things to happen - and he doesn't have to worry about getting elected.''