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.
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After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, U.S. president George H. W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, were eager to win international support for German reunification and German membership in NATO. But Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev faced strong opposition to these measures from members of his own Communist Party. Both … Read More
In negotiations, strong, adaptive leadership styles are often learned and perfected away from the table. Lena Dunham is a hugely successful actor, writer, and director, but the creator of the HBO hit show “Girls,” is also a formidable negotiator.
… Read More
The Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School is pleased to present:
Negotiating at Work: Turn Small Wins into Big Gains
Professor Emerita, Simmons College School of Management
Tuesday, November 17
Pound Hall 102
Harvard Law School Campus
Free and open to the public; refreshments will be served.
About the book:
Negotiation is undoubtedly essential to navigating the working world. Dr. … Read More
The Abraham Path Initiative
and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School are pleased to present:
Negotiating the Path of Abraham:
The Flip Side of the Middle East
Co-author of “Getting to Yes” and co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation
Dave Cornthwaite, Leon McCarron, Hannah Messerli,
James Sebenius, and José Filipe Torres
Saturday October 10
Milstein East B, Wasserstein Hall
Harvard Law School Campus
Free … Read More
The PON Film Series presents
followed by a post-screening discussion with
William Ury, co-author of Getting to YES &
Gary Slutkin, Executive Director of Chicago’s Ceasefire
Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School Campus
The Interrupters tells the moving and surprising stories of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago … Read More
In a recent article published in the Washington Post, Dr. William Ury, co-founder of the Program on Negotiation, suggests that Republicans and Democrats hammering out a deal on the national debt ceiling could benefit from the experience of negotiators.
Professional negotiators know that certain tactics can backfire in tense situations. Issuing ultimatums, publicly criticizing your counterpart, … Read More
Adapted from “When You Mean No, Say So!” first published in the Negotiation newsletter.
Too often, we say yes when we shouldn’t. Wanting to be team players at work, we postpone a family vacation. Or we pitch in on a community project when we have no time for it. In the short term, we please whoever … Read More
The following book, Negotiation Genius, was co-winner of the 2008 CPR Award for Excellence in ADR (Outstanding Book Category). It provides clear and methodical advice for preparing for and executing any negotiation, drawing on decades of behavioral research and the experience of thousands of business clients.
Whether you’ve “seen it all” or are just … Read More