William Ury

“How do we deal with our deepest differences without destroying everything we hold dear?”

From the halls of Harvard to the depths of Kentucky coal mines, from the White House Crisis Center to the deserts of Botswana, from corporate boardrooms to war zones in the Middle East, Korea, and Ukraine, William Ury has devoted his life to answering this one question that first sprang to his mind as a boy growing up under the shadow of the atomic bomb and amidst quarrels at the family dinner table.

Trained originally as an anthropologist, Ury went on to cofound Harvard’s Program on Negotiation and coauthor the world’s all-time bestselling book on negotiation, Getting to Yes, which popularized the concept of “win-win” agreements everywhere from business disputes to family feuds to partisan political battles.

Ury sought to test his theories as a negotiator in the world’s toughest conflicts. During the Cold War, Ury served as a consultant to the White House, helping the US and Soviet governments reach agreement on crisis centers to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war. He co-founded the International Negotiation Network with former president Jimmy Carter, working to end more than a dozen wars around the world. More recently, he served for seven years as a senior advisor to Colombian president and Nobel peace laureate Juan Manuel Santos to bring an end to a fifty year civil war widely thought impossible.

Negotiating conflict is not just talking, he learned, but being tackled by coal miners in a pitch-black mine, tailed by the KGB in icy Moscow, and publicly berated by an angry president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

In the work world, Ury has negotiated bitter labor disputes as well as what the Financial Times called “the biggest cross-continental boardroom showdown in recent history.” Ury has taught negotiation to tens of thousands of executives, government officials, military officers, teachers, lawyers, union officials, diplomats, and others. He has consulted for dozens of Fortune 500 companies at the highest levels.

Drawing on his anthropology background, Ury has sought answers to the question of why we fight and how we can stop among the Bushmen of the Kalahari, the peaceful Semai people of Malaysia, and the clan warriors of New Guinea.

Ury’s hallmark is looking for creative, unconventional solutions to age-old problems. Noting that no one seems to fight while they walk, he spearheaded the creation of the Abraham Path, a long-distance walking trail across the Middle East which Christiane Amanpour called “an unprecedented initiative to break down barriers and foster communication in the most divided region of the world.” His TED talk “The Walk from No to Yes” has millions of views.

Books by William URY

An expert on negotiation and mediation, William Ury has a passion for helping people transform conflict to change what’s possible. He translates decades of experience into simple, easy-to-understand techniques, strategies, and tips that can help people from all walks of life transform their personal and professional relationships.

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The author of the world’s best-selling book on negotiation draws on his nearly fifty years of experience and knowledge grappling with the world’s toughest conflicts to offer each of us a way out of the seemingly impossible problems of our time.

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