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Did you know that YES has almost no value in Negotiation?

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Negotiation and conflict resolution are essential skills in both personal and professional relationships. However, even the most skilled negotiators and mediators can fall into the trap of assuming that a "yes" response means agreement and understanding. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as research has shown that 79% of individuals who say "yes" during negotiations actually mean something different (4).

The Value of "Yes"

At first glance, a "yes" response seems like a win-win situation for both parties involved. However, the truth is that a "yes" response can be deceiving, and without proper follow-through, it has little value. Most of the time, people say "yes" simply to acknowledge the other person's statement, or to have their turn to speak. Other times, they agree with the other person's version of the agreement simply to avoid conflict or confrontation.

Formalizing a "Yes"

To avoid misunderstandings and disappointment, it's crucial to formalize a "yes" response into action. This means turning a verbal agreement into a written agreement, or outlining specific steps and deadlines that both parties must follow. This not only clarifies expectations but also helps to ensure that all parties involved are on the same page.

There are several techniques that you can use to formalize a "yes" response. One technique is to summarize the agreement in writing and send it to all parties involved. This helps to ensure that everyone understands the terms of the agreement and can refer back to it if necessary. Another technique is to set specific deadlines for completing tasks and regularly follow up on progress.

In some cases, it may be necessary to involve a neutral third party to formalize the agreement. This could be a mediator, an attorney, or even a trusted colleague. The key is to ensure that all parties involved agree on the terms of the agreement and that there is a clear plan for moving forward.


Formalizing a "yes" response is an essential part of negotiation and conflict resolution. It helps to ensure that all parties involved are on the same page and that there is a clear plan for moving forward. Whether you're negotiating a business deal, resolving a personal conflict, or simply trying to improve your communication skills, it's important to remember that a "yes" response is just the beginning. By formalizing that response into action, you can turn a potential misunderstanding into a successful outcome.


  1. Fisher, R., Ury, W., & Patton, B. (2011). Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in. Penguin.

  2. Lewicki, R. J., Saunders, D. M., & Barry, B. (2015). Negotiation. McGraw Hill.

  3. Thompson, L. (2014). The mind and heart of the negotiator. Pearson.

  4. Royer, S (2022). A negotiation System for Managers.

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