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<xTITLE>Getting to Yes – With Yourself -- Book Review</xTITLE>

Getting to Yes – With Yourself -- Book Review

by John Sturrock, William Ury
May 2015 Book Cover

“In the morning when I look at myself in the mirror, I like to remind myself that I am seeing the person who is probably going to give me the most trouble that day, the opponent who will be the biggest obstacle to me getting what I truly want.”

So writes William Ury in his just published new book, Getting to Yes with Yourself. Those who attended Collaborative Scotland’s Day of Dialogue in September at which William Ury was our guest conversationalist by video link, or who were present at The Hub in Edinburgh in 2009 when he led a full day workshop, will recall a man of warmth and humility, combined with clarity and great wisdom.

The distinguished co-author of the seminal Getting to Yes has come to the conclusion that the missing piece in all his writing about dealing with conflict is the inner one. Indeed, he describes this latest book as a “prequel” to Getting to Yes, the essential prerequisite to being able to achieve win-win, interest-based negotiated outcomes with others. Often, he observes, those who understand Getting to Yes fall back under pressure into costly and destructive win-lose methods, usually because we perceive others as “difficult people”, threatening to take advantage of us and to cause us loss.  We are “reaction machines”.

He writes that “very little in life may be under our full control, but the choice between yes and no is ours to make at any moment. We can choose to say yes or no to ourselves, to be either our best ally or our worst opponent. We can choose to say yes or no to life, to treat life either as friend or foe. We can choose to say yes or no to others, to relate to them either as possible partners or implacable allies. And our choices make all the difference.” Choose well and we can have three kinds of win.

I have often concluded training sessions with words from a poster in a hotel in Philadelphia which described the difference between something ordinary and something extraordinary as that little “extra”. Much of UK Sport’s successful Olympic programme, in which I was privileged to play a small part, was underpinned by the message that the difference lies at the margins, that very small things can make a huge difference.

So, Ury suggests a number of apparently small changes that may make all the difference. Put yourself in your shoes –suspend your inner critic: what do you really need? Develop your inner BATNA (see Getting to Yes!) – who are you blaming for your own needs not being met? What are the costs? Can you take personal responsibility rather than blaming others? Reframe your picture – can you accept life as it is and not feel that it is always against you in some way? If you do, then what? Stay in the zone – dispense with resentments about the past and anxieties about the future. Be personally present in the present. (The comparison with biblical teaching cannot be overlooked…). Respect others even if they don’t respect you - separating people from the problem was a central message of Getting to Yes; this reminds us that we can operate far better if we avoid being sucked into an antagonistic mind-set. Give and receive – Ury draws on the excellent work by another Harvard scholar Adam Grant, in his book Give and Take, which shows that thoughtful givers are in the longer run more successful. In other words, moving from the apparent scarcity of the win/lose model to maximising gains all round leads to a double- or triple-win.

Reflecting the passage at the beginning of this article, Ury refers to President Theodore Roosevelt’s colourful observation: “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” Finally, though, it is about acceptance and respect, towards yourself as much as towards life and others. And, says Ury, this is a lifelong journey, needing daily practice. It should all be common sense but, in reality, it is uncommon sense: common sense that is uncommonly applied.

Getting to Yes with Yourself is available from Harper Collins

Biography



John Sturrock is the founder and Chief Executive of the Core Solutions Group, Scotland's pre-eminent provider of commercial mediation services. Core is also recognised for its innovative training and coaching in mediation, negotiation and collaborative approaches to conflict and differences. John Sturrock is one of the most experienced commercial mediators in Scotland and has been described in Chambers Guide to the UK Legal Profession as the foremost mediator in Scotland”, and is highly ranked in the UK and wider afield. He is also a mediator at Brick Court Chambers in London.

William Ury

William L. Ury co-founded Harvard's Program on Negotiation and is currently a Senior Fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project. He is the author of The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No & Still Get to Yes, and co-author (with Roger Fisher) of Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, translated into 30+ languages. He is also author of the award-winning Getting Past No: Negotiating with Difficult People and Getting To Peace (released in paperback under the title The Third Side).

Over the last 30 years, Ury has served as a negotiation adviser and mediator in conflicts ranging from corporate mergers to wildcat strikes in a Kentucky coal mine to ethnic wars in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the former Soviet Union. With former president Jimmy Carter, he co- founded the International Negotiation Network, a non-governmental body seeking to end civil wars around the world. During the 1980s, he helped the US and Soviet governments create nuclear crisis centers designed to avert an accidental nuclear war. In that capacity, he served as a consultant to the Crisis Management Center at the White House. More recently, Ury has served as a third party in helping to end a civil war in Aceh, Indonesia, and helping to prevent one in Venezuela.

Ury has taught negotiation to tens of thousands of corporate executives, labor leaders, diplomats and military officers around the world. He helps organizations try to reach mutually profitable agreements with customers, suppliers, unions, and joint-venture partners.

His most recent project is the Abraham Path Initiative, which seeks to connect the human family step by step by creating a permanent route of cross-cultural tourism and pilgrimage in the Middle East that retraces the footsteps of Abraham, the unifying figure of many faiths and peoples. In 2012, Ury was selected as one of six finalists for the Coexist Prize for his exceptional contribution to building bridges between peoples of different faiths through the Abraham's Path Initiative.

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