What is a Positive No?
By slowly introducing a positive “no” into negotiations, a healthier kind of yes becomes possible too, making you a more effective negotiator.
The most challenging component of a good leadership style is saying no. But as expert negotiator William Ury has written, there is power in a “positive no.” Every day we find ourselves in situations where we need to say no—to people at work, at home, and in our communities—because it is the word we must use to stand up for what matters to us.
Although no can be both destructive and sometimes hard to utter, the word also “has the power to profoundly transform our lives for the better.” In fact, saying no can lay the foundation for valuable agreement.
A positive no is possibly the single most valuable skill in negotiation—and absolutely key to getting to yes. Whether it’s a practical need (like not missing dinner at home) or a fundamental principle, defining what we need to protect gives us strength and points the way to a constructive solution.
It’s also important to deliver a respectful no using a neutral, matter-of-fact tone that avoids a battle of wills. The no should be “empowered” with an alternative. For example, “I’m sorry I can’t do A, but perhaps I could do B, if that would help.”
Don’t be afraid to negotiate a solution that protects your needs but also accommodates some of your counterpart’s key interests.
You can learn more about the power of a positive no and the art of negotiation in this free special report, Business Negotiation Strategies: How to Negotiate Better Business Deals, from Harvard Law School.
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