Harvard Seminar, Dec 6th, 2018: The Art of Saying No

The Art of Saying No: Save the Deal, Save the Relationship, and Still Say No

No is perhaps the most important and certainly the most powerful word in the language. For many people, it is
also the hardest to say. Yet every day we find ourselves in situations where we need to say no—to people at work, at home, and in our communities—because it is the word we must use to stand up for what matters to us.

In business, how do you say no to an overly demanding co-worker or boss without hurting the relationship? Saying no the right way is possibly the single most valuable skill in negotiation—and absolutely key to getting to yes. As you will learn, the secret to saying no while protecting and advancing your core interests, without compromising relationships, lies in the art of the positive no. You will explore three common, yet flawed, approaches to the power vs. relationship dilemma:

  1. Accommodate: Saying yes when we want to say no. In this approach, we stress the relationship even if it means sacrificing our own interests.
  2. Attack: Saying no poorly. In this case, we use our power without concern for the relationship.
  3. Avoid: Saying nothing at all. The third approach is avoidance, plain and simple.

Fortunately, there is a way out of this trap: a positive no. Challenging the assumption that you can either use power to get what you want (at the expense of the relationship)or use the relationship (at the expense of the power), this approach calls on you to use both at the same time, engaging the other in a constructive and respectful confrontation.

In this session, you will learn how to:

  • Make your no firm and strong
  • Resist the other side’s aggression and manipulation
  • Defuse attacks and guilt tactics
  • Get to the right yes—the one that truly serves your interests

William L. Ury has served as a negotiation adviser and mediator in conflicts ranging from corporate mergers to ethnic wars in the Middle East. Co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation and senior fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project, Ury is one of the world’s leading experts on negotiation. He is also the author of The Power of a Positive No: Save the Deal, Save the Relationship— and Still Say No and co-author (with Roger Fisher and Bruce Patton) of Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In, an eight-million-copy best seller translated into more than 30 languages.

Every participant will receive a free copy of The Power of a Positive No: Save the Deal, Save the Relationship— and Still Say No.

Those who aspire to be better leaders should understand the importance of negotiation. The course provides the foundation that will set individuals on the path to becoming good leaders.
–Anika Hight, First Sergeant, U.S. Army Field Support Center

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