Getting Past No: Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation by William L. Ury

A practical guidebook to “Win-Win” negotiation.William L. Ury

William Ury is not only an experienced high-level negotiator but an acute student of his art who can distill his wisdom into concise, memorable lessons. This book is indispensable for anyone who wants to do well in negotiations, formal or informal, without humiliating or destroying the other side. For Ury and his disciples, Win-Win is not a feel-good aspiration but a profitable practice. As a negotiation style that builds relationships while getting things done, Win-Win is a cornerstone of the “Sustainable Workstyles” we teach at MayoGenuine.

A key insight of his method is the possibility of being “soft on the people, hard on the problem.” Negotiation is so often associated with macho words like “bruising,” “hard-nosed,” and “marathon” that it is easy to forget negotiation is not war pursued by other means. We negotiate as an alternative to battle, not as another version of it. Everyone wants an acceptable outcome and would prefer to get to it without being harmed. Ury’s techniques for separating the issues from the personalities help produce resolutions without unnecessary upsets and leave all involved willing to negotiate another day.

Many books and articles use familiar examples from the news to illustrate their points. The difference with Getting Past No is that when Ury talks about the Cuban missile crisis it is with the authority of one who was in the room with JFK. He has also participated in labor negotiations, mergers, and conversations with his children. His research and personal authority inform every suggestion.

If you are ready to reduce the time you spend capitulating and combating, if you are ready to start taking responsibility for crafting Win-Win agreements, then reading and applying this short book is your best start.



William Ury - Getting Past No

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Page numbers refer to the softcover edition.

[Items enclosed in brackets are Tony Mayo's comments]
  • p. 5 …soft on the people, hard on the problem.
  • p. 10 Your single greatest opportunity as a negotiator is to change the game. Instead of playing their way, let them have your way–the way of joint problem-solving. The great home run hitter, Sadahara Oh the Japanese equivalent of Babe Ruth, once explained his batting secret. Oh said that he looked on the opposing pitcher as his partner, who with every pitch was serving up an opportunity for him to hit a home run. Breakthrough negotiators do the same: They treat their opponents as negotiating partners who are presenting an opportunity to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement.
  • p. 22 BATNA: your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement The better your BATNA the more power you have.
  • p. 23 “I’m okay if it doesn’t go okay.”

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