October 19, 2008

Positive No example

William Ury has reminded us of the importance of saying No. In this modern world we are continuously bombarded with requests, demands, offers, and information. It would be quite impossible to say Yes to all of those. If we think about we soon realize how often we have to say No. Here a few examples of situations in which saying No is necessary:
  • Saying No as a teacher when a student disrupts class, 
  • Saying No as a supplier to a client when you cannot of don't want to fulfill a demand, 
  • Saying No to an invitation to go somewhere because you don't want to or don't have time, 
  • Saying No to a job applicant because he lacks the qualifications for the job, 
  • Saying No as a manager to an employee who asks to take part in a training program that is not relevant to the work he does, 
  • Saying No to a colleague who asks you to take over some work while you're too busy with your own work, 
  • Saying No to a request to work at a pay rate which is below the rate you have chosen yourself, 
  • Saying No to a telemarketer who calls you at an inconvenient time about a product that does not interest you. 
Earlier, I have describe the Positve No model by William Ury which revolves around the Yes!-No- Yes sequence. Here is a brief and simple example of that model in action.
Mary: "Jim, could you, in your presentation of results oriented management at our conference, also explain the relationship between your topic and the model by van Stephen Covey? His model is very popular within our organization." 
Jim: "I am afraid that would not be such a good idea, Mary. I have heard this topic really lives within your organization so I can imagine you're asking. But I don't really know a lot about that model. For me, it's important to focus my presentations on those things which I really have expertise in. That way, I know what I am talking about and I can deliver a credible presentation. My experience shows that works best for me."

Mary: "Oh.. yes …. I can see your point ….. yes … the reason I thought it would be a good idea is that the people in the audience are really very interested in Covey's model. So, it seemed like a good idea to help them see the relationship between your topic and that model." 
Jim: "I can imagine.… What would you say about inviting them to discuss among each other what the relationship between the two models?"
Mary: (thinks for a few seconds) "…Yes, that might actually even be more fun, too. That way, they'll be encouraged to think about this themselves. Excellent idea!"


  1. Excellent example! One that many scholars could use straight away, I am sure. I'd be particularly curious to the telemarketer situation, myself. I do manage to say no, but always wind up feeling guilty about it. When they call, I usually interrupt the introduction, as soon as the person pauses to breathe - however shortly. I will explain how I will seek out a pension expert at a time when I feel the need, and that I currently do not. Trying to remain polite and wishing the person good luck with his work. Still, I always end up feeling sorry for the person having to do this job after hanging up the phone. Again, an example would be appreciated!

    Keep up the good SFC work,

    Best regards,

  2. Coert,

    Thanks for posting such a great example. That really helps me to understand the spirit of the positive no.



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