Getting Past No
by William Ury
This was one of my favorite books a few years ago, when I decided to return to school for my master’s degree at age 48 and took several courses in negotiating. I have used this material in every day life when encountering difficult employees in a variety of sales situations, as well as for work with my clients in helping them solve their business issues. It is as useful today as it was in the 90s when written by Ury, the Director of the Global Negotiation Project for Harvard University. Ury, who is the co-author of the much acclaimed Getting to Yes, subtitles this earlier book as “Negotiating in Difficult Situations.”
Ury’s five-step process strategy called “Breakthrough Negotiation” builds its premise on the “zig-zag” or indirect approach. Using a sailing tack metaphor, the author shares some great concrete examples on how to diffuse or avoid emotions in order to get both parties on the “same side”, together building a solution to the common problem. His steps make a lot of sense and when applied often break the logjam of anger and blame and create a solution:
- Go the balcony – suspend your negative emotions
- Step to their side – defuse the other person’s negativity by listening and asking questions to understand their motivation
- Accept their position – don’t argue – and then reframe the position to align with yours
- Build them a golden bridge – my favorite step – help them see HOW to help you in a way that is consistent with their own position. Help them save face and meet their own needs, too.
- Use power to educate. When all the other steps fail and you still can’t get someone to negotiate, find ways to educate them graciously on why a win-win is better. “Bring them to their senses, not their knees, said Ury.”
Above all, go in prepared and know in advance your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). This is your “walkaway” agreement if you can’t negotiate your desired outcome.
Ury peppers the book with life examples that vary from married couples learning to squabble better and parents negotiating with children to the famed President Carter middle east negotiations. Applying what you learn from this book is guaranteed to produce some great results in every area of your life.
Purchase Getting Past No