‘The Power of a Positive No’

I am trying something new today, I am typing this as I listen to a book review of ‘The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes’, by William Ury. I am interested in the premise of the book and keen to develop my auditory channel so recently, in lieu of reading, I have been finding and listening to many podcasts and seminar recordings. So here we go….

William Ury’s book is essentially about using ‘no’ in service of your ‘higher yes’. Ury outlines a three part model
1. Yes – Our own internal yes, what’s important to us. Getting really clear about what our interests are. What is our higher yes that we are honoring?
2. No– Asserting our interests and setting boundaries based on our ‘higher yes’/developing awareness around a plan B if necessary so we are empowered to operationalize elsewhere and remain authentic to your ‘higher yes’.
3. Yes – An external yes/invitation or proposal to the other person that furthers the relationship

This model presents a classic negotiation technique; when we stand firm in ‘no’ we are being authentic to our own ‘yes’, and once our ‘no’ is asserted we are more able to enter into the second ‘yes’ and further the relationship.

Saying no gives us the freedom to be truthful to ourselves and respectful to others. By saying no we are actually saying yes to something we believe in and in fact a ‘yes’ without a ‘no’ could just be appeasement which leads into what Ury calls the three ‘A’s’

When we are not using a ‘positive no’ we –
Accommodate (appeasment, often resulting in resentment’)
Attack (saying no poorly, resulting in conflict)
Avoid (saying nothing at all, likely to result in stress & bad health other serious consequences, Enron is actually cited here!)

We can consider a ‘positive no’ as our shield, it does not attack another it just protects what is important to us, other types of ‘no’ are usually used like swords, showing no true concern for the other person/organization. This apparently includes saying ‘no, because I say so’ which teaches a win/lose situation to children where they begin to develop beliefs around power and who holds it. (Mmmm, I know many children with incredible powers of negotiation, is that because their parents act that way too?)

I am now hearing how this impacts women specifically, there is a discussion about how women often carry a lot of guilt and fear about saying no, however we can only really honor ourselves authentically if we are able to say no. The ‘Yes, No, Yes’ model diminishes the feeling of potential rejection, because when we marry our ‘no’ with the ‘higher yes’, women are very good at saying ‘no’. For example we are very good at saying ‘no’ to serve the ‘higher yes’ to a child’s health. The clarity of the first and higher yes gives power to the ‘positive no’.

– To handle overwhelm and exhaustion
– Self care
– Salary negotiations
– Scope creep
– Gaining cooperation from someone else
– And just about everything else in life!

You can visit www.williamury.com and print a wallet size ‘tips’ card that reads as follows –

1.Uncover your deeper Yes
• Deeper Yes: a core interest, need, or value
• Express your Yes to the other
• Stay true to your Yes
2. Deliver a respectful No
• Don’t reject, offer respect
• Keep your tone neutral and matter-of-fact
• Empower your No with a Plan B
3. Negotiate to a healthy Yes
• Healthy Yes: a positive outcome or relationship
• Follow your No with a positive proposal
• Facilitate a wise agreement

Pretty interesting….. OK I am stopping the recording now.

I have to say I am a big supporter of saying ‘no’ and a fan of those who use it regularly to protect their values. I once attended a leadership course and there was a section on negotiation where we were asked to practice saying no, and hearing no from others. It started off in that awkward way that so many of these exercises do, and even though we were making up requests that we didn’t even expect to get an affirmative answer to, it was still a little off putting being told no. However, with the practice it really didn’t take too long before we could hear no and be OK with it, respecting the other person’s values, and be able to say no and feel good about it. I learned a lot from that exercise and having listened to this book review feel a little more refreshed in regard to the healthy use of ‘no’.

What will you say a ‘positive no’ to this week?
You can download an abridged version of the book itself at www.audible.com

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