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The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes Hardcover – February 27, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Twenty-five years after the publication of the bestselling Getting to Yes, Ury addresses the other side of the coin, but his version of "No" is not a simple rejection. "A Positive No begins with Yes and ends with Yes," he says, because it defines the nay-sayer's self-interests and paves the way for a continued relationship. Ury delineates this "Yes! No. Yes?" pattern recursively, so that each step is itself another three-part process. In addition to drawing on his own experiences as a negotiator for conflicts in countries like Chechnya and Venezuela, and the historical examples of activists like Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, he shows how his principles can be used in the home and the workplace. He even throws in a few literary precedents, citing Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener, whose repetition of the phrase "I would prefer not to" is cited as a "simple and admirable" method of polite refusal. Some of Ury's advice, like describing how another's actions make you feel rather than attacking the action, may strike the more cynical minded as touchy-feely, but his reminders to consider the other person's perspective while asserting your own position create a clear, unambiguous path to win-win situations. (Mar. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"William Ury brings a marvelous blend of experience, insight, integrity and warmth to his work. In this wonderful book he teaches us how to say No—with grace and effect—so that we might create even better Yes".—Jim Collins, author Good to Great

"Almost any brief comment on The Power of a Positive No would be trite. Suffice it to say that if I'd had and used this book for the last 25 years, I would have doubtless avoided innumerable heartaches and headaches and tattered personal and professional relationships. 'Original' is an embarrassingly overused word on book dust jackets, but, simply, this all-important book stands alone on a subject that underpins, like no other, jndividual and organizational effectiveness."—Tom Peters, author of In search of Excellence

"The world's biggest shared secret is that most of us say yes when we really want to say no, in both our professional and private lives. Bill Ury generously provides us with insights and techniques to turn this malady into win-win solutions. This is a wise and powerful book."—John Naisbitt, author of Megatrends

"No matter whether you are negotiating compensation with the toughest CFO or a curfew for your teenager, this book teaches us a critical and counterintuitive lesson.  You can say no and still be nice.  Simple, straightforward and easy to read, The Power of a Positive No is a YES on our reading list."—Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, authors of The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; English Language edition (February 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553804987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553804980
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Ury is the co-author of the well-known book Getting to YES. In this book he explains how he has come to realize that getting to yes is only half of the picture. Ury even says that "whether and how we say No determines the very quality of our lives." The reason is that word No is indispensible whenever you have to stand up for what really matters to you.Certain situations can create tension between an issue which is important to you and a relatinoship that is also important to you. This tension can make us fall into the three-A trap of Accomodation (saying yes when we mean No), Attacking (responding forcefully) and Avoiding (doing nothing at all). Ury presents the positive No as a way out. In short this means:

1. Yes! -> positively and concretely describing your core interests and values

2. No. -> explicitely link your no to this YES!

3. Yes? -> suggest another positive outcome or agreement to the other person

Ury goes into much detail about how to prepare, deliver, and follow through your positive No. His style of wrting is crystal clear and his examples are interesting. Some examples are probably very recognizable to many readers (like: how do you say to someone who wants to borrow money from you when you don't want to). Other examples are much grander (how to negotiate in an inter-ethnic conflict) and also interesting. The core idea of this book is very simple and very important. I was perhaps most interested to read Chapter 2 which explain the importance of a Plan B, which is your backup for your prefered outcome. I'll end this review with a quote by the great No-sayer Mahatma Gandhi (which is mentiond on page 7): "A `No' uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a `Yes' merely uttered to please or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
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Format: Hardcover
The title isn't a cute play on words. This book really does reveal how to say "no" in a positive way. Some people think saying no is negative behavior, without recognizing the reality that failing to saying no (when you should) can do immense harm. Some people think that getting your way ("winning") is what matters, and they render their "no" in a way that diminishes their own position and everyone involved.

The first view is disrespectful to yourself and dishonest toward the other person. The latter is disrespectful to the other person and dishonest toward yourself. Neither view takes into consideration that two parties have their own needs and agendas to meet. When one side loses, both lose.

A third way, which Ury reveals, is honest and respectful to both parties. Consequently, it leads to a positive outcome for both parties. Sometimes, it's a matter of leaving a door open. You may have worked with someone who quit and came back several times over the course of many years--how did that person manage to say no to your employer and yet leave the door open to being rehired later? A "no" doesn't need to inflict negative results--it can provide positive results. How that happens is the subject of this book, and Ury provides many examples to show how this works.

In fact, one example from this book was a verbatim suggestion given to me by a business associate just last year. In a pre-sale message, we needed to tell a customer no to some features he wanted. I had sent my associate my planned reply, and she came back with a suggestion--it was a softener to the no, one that left the door open without tying us down. The customer was delighted with my modified reply, and I closed the sale.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for twenty dollars, plus tax . . . but it was still a gift. I say this because Ury is clearly a world-class leader in the field of negotiatons, whose expertise has been honed in the most varied and challenging of circumstances. Yet, in this book he shares many of the secrets by which he makes his bread and butter and earns the respect of giants of industry, government, as well as the more proletarian lives he touches. I asked myself, "Why did this very busy and successful man bother to take the time to lay all of this out for us common folk?" Sure, he'll make a big profit from the endeavor, but still, we will gow rich as well, in other ways, due to his having bothered to share his hard-earned wisdom with us all.

In writing this book, Ury has done us all a service, certainly myself. From the very beginning, he increased my awareness and sense of confidence in social and professional relationships, as when I had to quickly draw the line with a person with a borderline personality who was wreaking relational havoc at my place of work. Ury gives us confidence in our No's, grounded in a conscious and deep sense of our own "Yesss," our own non-negotiable principles and values. He also teaches us how to move beyond "No," to liveable "Yesses," that is, to solutions which respect and address the needs of all parties.

This book is wise, it is principled, it is thorough. At times it seemed too detailed, but as I continued to read, I was grateful for his patient exploration of every nuance, because even amidst my first reading, I was promising myself a second read . . . and more. This, because the book is a master course in more effective interpersonal relationships whether in the workplace, academia, or the home.
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