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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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"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.
About the Author
A world-renowned negotiator, mediator, and bestselling author, William Ury directs the Global Negotiation Project at Harvard University. Over the last thirty years he has helped millions of people, hundreds of organizations, and numerous countries at war reach satisfying agreements.
From the Hardcover edition.
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1. The other party exists.
2. The other party's interests exist.
3. The other party's power exists.
Negative emotions often lead to accommodating the other party (guilt), avoiding conflict altogether (fear) or attacking the opposition (guilt). Needless to say, these tactics do not foster respect and are the result of emotional short circuits run amok. One of the most important components of the solution is to recognise your own emotions and seeing them as events that are happening to you, rather than as something you are. "I am angry" is far less productive than "I feel anger." That is not to say that emotions are something that must be suppressed. That is often counterproductive and tends to result in emotional outbursts at a later date. Emotions can often signal problems or opportunities that can be uncovered and dealt with. Detaching oneself from feelings of intense anger, fear, guilt, anxiety or apprehension can be very effective when preparing for a negotiation. Calming oneself, going to the balcony and refusing to give in to one's own temper or indignation will often foster respect from the other party.
Three essential points must be uncovered before initiating any negotiation. What do you want to create that is of value to you? How will you protect it once you have it? What can you change that doesn't work? Ury uses the example of Southwest Airlines, a superlative leader in the US air transport industry. By selecting profit, reliable flights and fast turnover, it did away with reserved seats and meals on its flights. This proved to be a very successful strategy. Taking customers out to extravagant meals before delivering bad news can also help dampen the disappointment that is almost certain to result. Again, the key is to build, nurture and sustain healthy, productive and win-win relationships for all parties.
Ury's most insightful (and counter-intuitive) insight concerns how to help your adversary cross your golden bridge to agreement. It is a tactic that few will devise on their own. When dealing with the other side's representative, always keep in mind the fact that they are accountable to their constituents, and if they cannot convince them that their agreement was the right thing to do under the circumstances, they will likely be reticent and reject any deals you may offer. Helping them see the benefits for their constituents and helping them save face (or even gain respect) among their stakeholders will make agreement more likely (to say nothing of the benefits for both relationships).
In summary, begin with a firm, assertive Yes! Continue by asserting your interests and explain why you are not willing to accept unreasonable demands. Finish with a Yes?, and propose a reasonable solution that will lead to a win-win solution for all parties.
The Ury approach is to first articulate your needs, i.e. your yes, and to be able to explain how your needs are not being met by the bad deal. The next step is to say no is a way that is emphatic and to stick to your no so as not to cave to the other side's pressure. Finally, you then make a counter-proposal, i.e. your "yes," so as to preserve and continue the relationship. This "yes, no, yes" approach may sound simple but it is not.
Ury's books have been referred to me by several law professor over the years as part of my legal training. I have found Ury's books eminently practical yet paradigm shifting. I heartily recommend the power of a Positive No as well as all the other Ury books on negotiation.
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.
It's also a breeze to read. Ury's other book, "Getting to Yes," is a bit of a slog by comparison, unless you actually work in negotiation. This book is more relevant to the life of the average person.