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!
From the Hardcover edition.
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 2007 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 26, 2007
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Excerpt from The Power of a Positive No by William Ury
Uncover Your Yes
"In creating, the only hard thing's to begin; a grass-blade's no easier to make than an oak." -James Russell Lowell
Perhaps the single biggest mistake we make when we say No is to start from No. We derive our No from what we are against-the other's demand or behavior. A Positive No calls on us to do the exact opposite and base our No on what we are for. Instead of starting from No, start from Yes. Root your No in a deeper Yes-a Yes to your core interests and to what truly matters.
Nowhere did I learn this more clearly than from a relative of mine who suffered from a serious addiction to alcohol that nearly cost him and others their lives in a car accident. He tried many times to give up the habit but always failed. Then at the age of sixty, just when all hope seemed lost, he found in him- self the will to say No and stop drinking. The secret? "When my first grandchild was born," he says, "I wanted more than anything to live long enough to see him grow up. It was his birth that motivated me to get treatment and stop drinking. Since then, for over fifteen years now, I have not touched a drop." His Yes to being present for his grandchildren-to be able to play with them and see them grow-motivated his powerful No to alcohol.
His story serves to illustrate an everyday paradoxical truth: the power of your No comes directly from the power of your Yes.
Your Yes is the underlying purpose for which you are saying No. The first step in the method is to uncover the Yes that lies behind your No. The deeper you go into your core motivation, the more powerful your Yes will be and thus the more powerful your No.
From Reactive to Proactive
The biggest obstacle to saying No successfully is not the other, however difficult they might be. It is ourselves. It is our all-too-human tendency to react-to act with intense emotion but without clear purpose. We humans are reaction machines. And our Nos tend to be reactive. We accommodate out of fear and guilt. We attack out of anger. We avoid out of fear. To get ourselves out of this three-A trap, we need to become proactive, forward-looking, and purposeful.
This challenge is vividly captured in an old Japanese story about a samurai and a fisherman. One day, the samurai went to collect a debt from the fisherman. "I'm sorry," the fisherman said, "but this last year has been a very bad one for me, and I regret to say I do not have the money to repay you." Quick to anger, the samurai drew his sword and prepared to kill the fisherman on the spot. Thinking fast, the fisherman boldly said, "I have been studying martial arts and my master teaches that you should never strike out of anger."
The samurai looked at him for a minute, then slowly lowered his sword. "Your master is wise," he said quietly. "My master used to teach the same lesson. Sometimes my anger gets the better of me. I will give you one more year to repay your debt, but if you fail by even a penny, I will surely kill you."
The samurai returned to his house, arriving late at night. He crept in quietly, not wishing to wake his wife, but to his shock, he found two people in the bed, his wife and a stranger dressed in samurai clothing. With a surge of jealousy and anger, he raised his sword to slay them both, but suddenly the fisherman's words came back to him: "Do not strike out of anger." The samurai stopped for a moment, took a deep breath, and then deliberately made a loud noise. His wife instantly woke up, as did the "stranger," who turned out to be his mother.
"What is the meaning of this?" he yelled. "I almost killed you both!"
"We were afraid of robbers," his wife explained. "So I dressed your mother up in your samurai clothes to scare them off."