Book Review – Getting To Yes With Yourself By William Ury

IGetting to yes with yourselff you haven’t heard the William Ury, the author of this book, know that he is someone worth exploring. I previously read one of his books titled, The Power of a Positive NO. You can read my review of that book here. My experience of that book meant I could not resist picking this one up. Ury writes about negotiation and he has worked as a mediator and negotiation advisor. He wrote his first book on the subject with the late Roger Spencer titled, Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, over three decades ago, so when Ury writes about negotiation, he has a wealth and depth of experience and knowledge he’s writing from.

In Getting To Yes With Yourself, Ury looks at negotiation from a different perspective and he calls this book the prequel he should have written before he’s other books. He believes that in negotiation situations, the biggest obstacle is often not the other person, but ourselves. According to Ury, it’s a good step before any discussion involving a degree of negotiation to first negotiate with ourselves. This involves asking ourselves key questions about what we really want from the negotiation and also being honest about how we react in difficult exchanges with others.

To teach us this concept of ‘getting to yes with yourself’, Ury has created a six-step framework with the necessary actions. Each step in the framework forms a chapter in the book. I have briefly introduced each step below.

  1. Put yourself in your shoes: Ury describes the purpose of this chapter as understanding your worthiest opponent which is YOU. Instead of judging yourself, listen intently to your own needs just as you would in a negotiation situation to your opponent’s.
  2. Develop your inner BATNA: When we are in conflict with others, our default stance is to blame the other person. In this chapter Ury is challenging us to do the opposite and take responsibility for our lives and relationships, and to make a commitment to take care of our own needs irrespective of the other person’s actions. That’s why we need to develop our inner BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). Ury tells us how to do that in this chapter.
  3. Reframe your picture: The advice here is to let go of our fear of scarcity and see life as being on our side even when things don’t seem to be going well. This is about developing a different life outlook.
  4. Stay in the zone: Don’t get consumed by resentment with the past or anxiety with the future. Stay in the moment, in the present which is the only place where you can act to make things better.
  5. Respect them even if: This is a challenging area, but Ury is teaching us to respect others even when they disrespect us. In other words, don’t meet rejection with rejection or attack with attack.
  6. Give and receive: Don’t fall into the trap of a win-lose mindset where you only focus on meeting your own needs. Work to devise win-win-win solutions where you give first before receiving.

This is not a large book with just 177 pages of reading content, but it is a practical one. Ury encourages us to practices the skills distilled into the six steps till we master them. When you read a book like this, you may not be able to grasp or remember everything. It is important that you take something away from it. Two lessons that have already stuck with me are from the fifth and sixth steps. I want to learn to respect people despite the way they may treat me. I also want to learn to give first before receiving.

I wonder what you will learn if you read this book.