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The Power of a Positive No: Save The Deal Save The Relationship and Still Say No Paperback – December 26, 2007
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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. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
"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
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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. After the sale, I compared both replies and saw that my original, while not patently offensive, didn't leave the door open and could easily have left the customer feeling cold.
Recognizing these kinds of gems in this book helped reinforce to me the credibility of the author. Yes, he already came with plenty of high-end credentials, as a quick online search on "William Ury" reveals. But what really grabbed me was the substance of the book. Here's a subject we all have to deal with, on various levels, but we find it so hard and so frustrating to get it right. We find ourselves constantly choosing between saying yes to have harmony and saying no to protect our interests. But we don't need to be in that position. It's not an either/or choice.
You can say no to someone's (offer, demand, viewpoint, preference, plans) in a way that leaves that other person feeling better for the exchange, and thus enhances the relationship. You can refuse a customer's demands and not lose the sale or watch future sales evaporate. You can tell your spouse no (to that golf outing, new car, cruise) and not start a fight. You can tell your child no to going to (name the place) without getting an argument or temper tantrum in return. You can tell your boss no to yet another (assignment, transfer, trip, seminar) without sinking your career advancement. How you say no allows you to do these things. And that is what Ury addresses from his years of experience in negotiations.
As I read through this book, time and again I found myself nodding, "Yes, that's exactly right." Other times, I found myself thinking, "So, that's how I should have handled (name the circumstance)!" or "I can see how this works better than the way I normally do it."
Many times, I have said no to someone or disagreed with someone, only to be surprised that the other person is offended. I may have said, "This is wrong," but the other person heard, "You are wrong." You can say no to the proposal without saying no to the person. Yury explains how to do this.
It's a powerful skill, and not just in business. For example, have you fought with a friend or family member over something trivial? Or, flipping that around, have you bought into the "go along to get along" concept, only to fume later?
The process of providing another person with a positive no has three stages: preparation, delivery, and follow-through. The book is divided into three Parts, each of which deal with one of these stages. Each Part contains three chapters, bringing the subtotal to nine chapters. The final (tenth, but unnumbered) chapter concludes the book by explaining the marriage of yes and no.
This book is a winner. If you practice its principles, both you and the recipient of your "no" will feel like--and be--winners, too. I must caution you, this book does not provide some simplistic formula or magic words to utter. It takes time to master the concepts and apply them correctly. Ury provides plenty of examples to show that doing so is well worth the effort.
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.
In making things sound so simple, Ury risks being accused of marketing the obvious. However, these matters only seem obvious after he has so articulately pointed them out. This too is a measure of his skill, his generosity, and the value of this big little book.
Buy it. And more than that, use it! It will mature you and put more spring in your step.