Synopses & Reviews
No is perhaps the most important and certainly the most powerful word in the language. Every day we find ourselves in situations where we need to say No to people at work, at home, and in our communities because No is the word we must use to protect ourselves and to stand up for everything and everyone that matters to us.
But as we all know, the wrong No can also destroy what we most value by alienating and angering people. That's why saying No the right way is crucial. The secret to saying No without destroying relationships lies in the art of the Positive No, a proven technique that anyone can learn.
This indispensable book gives you a simple three-step method for saying a Positive No. It will show you how to assert and defend your key interests; how to make your No firm and strong; how to resist the other side's aggression and manipulation; and how to do all this while still getting to Yes. In the end, the Positive No will help you get not just to any Yes but to the right Yes, the one that truly serves your interests.
Based on William Ury's celebrated Harvard University course for managers and professionals, The Power of a Positive No offers concrete advice and practical examples for saying No in virtually any situation. Whether you need to say No to your customer or your coworker, your employee or your CEO, your child or your spouse, you will find in this book the secret to saying No clearly, respectfully, and effectively.
In today's world of high stress and limitless choices, the pressure to give in and say Yes grows greater every day, producing overload and overwork, expanding e-mail and eroding ethics. Never has No been more needed. A Positive No has the power to profoundly transform our lives by enabling us to say Yes to what counts our own needs, values, and priorities.
Understood this way, No is the new Yes. And the Positive No may be the most valuable life skill you'll ever learn!
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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
"This work on an all-too-common problem should assist many; highly recommended..." Library Journal
The co-author of the best-selling Getting to Yes explains how to use the word "No" effectively and in a positive way to defend one's personal interests in personal and professional situations while preserving one's relationships with others, introducing a series of essential life skills designed to help readers assert themselves without destructive repercussions. 170,000 first printing.
Author of the reissued powerhouse Getting Past No, Ury gives readers the life skills to successfully assert themselves. He explains that when used correctly, this one simple word No can profoundly transform lives for the better.
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.
Reading Group Guide
1. Think of a time when it felt important to say no, whether you did so to your satisfaction or not. What happened? How did it affect you?
2. William Urys introduction begins with the poignant story of his daughters illness and the difficulty of navigating the healthcare system.What makes contemporary healthcare such an intimidating realm when it comes to negotiation? How could the Positive No help you transform your physical health?
3. Which of the “Three-A”traps do you encounter most often: Accommodate, Attack, or Avoid, or a combination of all three? When have these traps created disharmony or dishonesty in your community? What is your own tendency and thus your learning edge—do you tend to accommodate, attack, or avoid, or all three?
4. Ury recommends “going to the balcony” to dispel the anger or fear that can undermine a negotiation from the start. What techniques help you “go to the balcony”? What ritual can you create for yourself to implement this? If you try viewing a current conflict situation in your life from a balcony perspective, what do you notice?
5. In uncovering the roots of your fundamental Yes, what interests, needs, and values are central to you? What will it mean to say yes to yourself? What principles are you willing to protect at all costs? Go beyond your first response, asking yourself why that interest, need, or value matters to you so much.
6. The Power of a Positive No is full of memorable examples of those who were prepared to say no to a Goliath, from Rosa Parks (a dedicated civil rights activist) to corporations such as Snapper, which flourished after refusing to comply with Wal-Marts demands for continuous price cuts. Discuss a point of contention that has been worrying you in recent weeks. Following Urys notion of a Plan B, what backup plan could you create to empower yourself and ensure that your interests are met, even if a negotiated agreement falls through?
7. Chapter Two ends with three questions to ask yourself before saying No. What are the best ways to determine whether you have the interest, the power, and the right to say no? Have you ever had a visceral sense of your interest, power, and right to say no? When? What happened?
8. What did the book help you discover about your own No style? In what circumstances have you found it especially difficult to feel respect for another person? What are the common ingredients in the true stories found in this chapter, such as federal prisoner Troy Chapmans way of communicating “I have no need of an enemy” when confronting a sidewalk standoff, or the nonviolent resolution witnessed by aikido student Terry Dobson?
9. Do you or those you know resort to using the subtle “attack” words described in chapter four? What is the origin of our impulse to make use of “shoulding,” or judgmental statements, or categorical exaggerations? Try re-phrasing a judgmental statement in more neutral language.
10. Which of the assertive phrases for saying no in chapter five will be easiest for you to add to your everyday conversation style? In what ways can these phrases strengthen relationships that had previously been damaged by words?
11. How can you ensure that youve applied the distinctions between warnings and threats in your negotiating style? What is the best way to detect manipulative threats, guilt-trips, and slippery-slope predictions in the language of those with whom youre negotiating?
12. Chapter Nine distinguishes positions from interests, with ideas for developing an understanding of the motivations behind someones claims. What are the interests of some of your rivals? What interests do you share? What opportunities for collaboration might exist between you and those who seem to stand in your way currently? What might their “acceptance speech” look like?
13. Which of the personal stories or quotations was most memorable for you? In what way can you use that narrative or image to remind yourself of your own interests, reinforce your courage, and thus stand up for yourself without damaging the relationship?
14. Participate in a role-playing exercise with the members of your group. Choose someone in your life who has been a particularly hard bargainer (think of Dick Goodwins challenge with LBJ). Drawing on Urys strategies, practice how you will interact with this difficult person in the future. Make notes of the words that feel natural yet effective to you. The next time your group meets, share the results of your real-life Yes! No. Yes? dialogues. [Below please find a set of instructions for a Positive No exercise, if you would like to use them]
15. Engage in a visionary discussion regarding the Positive No. Beginning on a very local level-your close family members, your team at work, or a community group-envision what daily life would look like if everyone in that circle practiced these principles. Next, expand the vision to a broader scope, eventually arriving at the kinds of geopolitical situations in which Ury has been involved. What kinds of suffering, waste, and loss could be avoided through the practice of a Positive No?
16. In what way does The Power of a Positive No complement and relate to Getting to Yes and Getting Past No? What are the fundamental messages of the trilogy as a whole?
DELIVERING A POSITIVE NO
Mutual Consulting Exercise
The exercise will give you an opportunity to work on your Positive No, to rehearse it in front of others, and to receive feedback, so you can improve it.
1. Form into groups of three.
2. Write down your Yes No Yes. Take a few minutes by yourself to write your “Yes! No. Yes?” for your own negotiating situation:
a. First work on your “Yes!” What do you want to say Yes to? What are your underlying interests—desires, needs, concerns, values? What do you stand for? You might begin your sentence with “I stand for . . .,” “I need . . .,” or “I want . . .” and then fill in the blank.
b. Now work on your ‘No. What exactly are you wanting to say No to? What demand or request do you wish to refuse? What behavior do you wish to change? You might begin your sentence with, “I say No to . . . or I choose not to do . . .” and then fill in the blank. This is your matter-of-fact “No.”
c. Now work on your ‘Yes? What, in other words, is your yes-able proposal? What are you offering or suggesting to the Other? What would you like them to do? You might begin with your sentence with “I propose the following: . . .” and then fill in the blank.
3. Rehearse your Positive No in your group of three. One person recites their “Yes! No. Yes?” to the two others in their group. The Positive No might take the following form “Because I stand for X, I say No to Y, and I propose Z.”
4. Give feedback. After one person recites their Positive No, the two others give feedback. Assess whether you thought the No was too accommodating, too attacking, or too avoiding, or just right. Then give the person verbal feedback:
a. Was the “Yes!” strong, clear, powerful?
b. Was the “No.” matter-of-fact, clear, strong, without an edge, a simple pronouncement of a new reality?
c. Was the “Yes?” clear, operational, specific, realistic?
5. Now give them a chance to try again. Give the person a second chance to try out their Positive No after having heard your feedback. Again give them feedback. Now give the person a third chance and give them feedback one last time.
6. Repeat for the second and third persons in the group. Repeat steps 3, 4, 5, for the other persons in the group.
7. Discuss any general lessons in the group of three. First take a minute to edit your Positive No in the light of the feedback you received. Then discuss with your two colleagues:
a. What is difficult for you about delivering a Positive No?
b. What works? What helps you in saying a Positive No?
c. Any surprises or reflections?
William Ury and Roger Fishers Getting to Yes
has become one of the top bestselling books in the world on negotiation, with over six million copies in print. More than twenty-five years since the publication of that classic, in a high-stress world now filled with demanding e-mails, overbooked calendars, and eroding ethics, getting to Yes is clearly only part of the equation. Getting to the right Yes is what really matters.
Drawing on his revolutionary research, as well as his experience serving as a negotiator in countries such as Chechnya and Venezuela, Ury now shares a powerful guide revealing how a positive No can ultimately save a deal, a relationship, a family, or a career. Making his remarkable three-step method available to everyone-with concepts from the acclaimed course he teaches at Harvard University-The Power of a Positive No provides breakthrough strategies for resisting manipulation without alienating those who matter the most. For anyone who feels torn between being the “bad cop” and facing a deluge of impossible requests, this is a book that can help all readers rediscover the greatest measures of success: a healthy, satisfying life, and long-lasting partnerships built on integrity.
Whether you read The Power of a Positive No with your co-workers, your family, or your friends, we hope that the following discussion topics will enrich your experience of William Urys insightful wisdom.