March 21, 2007

Root your No in a deeper Yes

Positive thinking is hot. There seems to be an abundance of positive change approaches like solution-focused practice, appreciative inquiry, positive psychology, strength based management, positive deviance, change without pain, etc. QUESTION: does this emphasis on the positive mean that we have agree and go along with everything that comes on our path? I am convinced this is not the case; limitations, restrictions and choices are and will remain indispensable. As long as this is the case, the skill to say No will remain indispensable. QUESTION: does saying No imply that you can no longer be constructive, respectful and positive? According to negotiation expert William Ury this does not have to be the case. He has written a book which starts with these insightful words:

“Perhaps the single biggest mistake we make when we say No is to start from No. We derive our No from what we are against- the other’s demands or behavior. A positive No calls on us to do the exact opposite and base our No on what we are for. Instead of starting from No, start from Yes. Root your No in a deeper Yes- a Yes to your core interests and to what truly matters.”

- William Ury, podcast and video, book
I can't wait to read the rest of this book because I think this is important and very useful stuff.


  1. yes, and there is an additional aspect: How we can accept HEARING a "NO":

    Cheers, Hans-Peter

  2. Yes, exactly. I like this part of the article you send: "When our children say “no” and we hear “no,” we are left with two often unsatisfying options: Either we accommodate their “no” or we override it. When we choose to transform our children's “no” into an understanding of the “yes” behind it, we gain deeper insight into what motivates our children’s
    actions: needs that are shared by all human beings."

    This is a good extention of the same important idea
    Kind reagrds, Coert

  3. Wow!, Coert. You've been busy. This blog has become one of my favorite websites.

  4. Hi Jim, Thanks. There is so much fascinating stuff around.


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