The Power of a Positive No!

In today’s rugged economy, can we really afford to say No? Can we reject a particular project? Can we resign an abusive client? Can we release a productive partner or colleague with a bad attitude?

Yes, we can. In fact, now more than ever we will benefit from sharpening our business practices, and saying Yes to our values and No to those people and situations that compromise them.

That’s the premise of William Ury’s New York Times best-selling book, The Power of a Positive No, so smartly recommended by my sister and mentor, Anne Donnellon, a professor at Babson College. Ury also directs the renowned Harvard Global Negotiation Project and co-authored the best-seller Getting to Yes.

So, here’s Ury’s core idea: No is yes to your values, business and personal fulfillment, and most likely to your own personal success.Macali Enterprise article image

What are the values of a positive No?

  • Create your own wants.
  • Protect what you value.
  • Change what no longer works.

So how do you realize those values? Ury recommends doing so in 3 stages:

  1. Prepare your positive No — you uncover your Yes, empower your No, and respect your way to Yes.
  2. Deliver your positive No— you express your Yes, assert your No and propose a Yes.
  3. Follow through on your positive No — this is most important as you stay true to your Yes, underscore your No and negotiate to Yes.

Ury believes that the Power of a Positive No is like a tree. Your positive No is a strong trunk rooted in a deeper Yes and blossoming into a broader Yes.

This approach may seem really soft to business folks, but No is the key word in your strategic focus.

Ury cites Southwest Airlines, the most successful U.S. airline, and the original model for low-cost airlines worldwide. Southwest’s secret is to deliver a positive No to its customers. In order to say Yes to success and profitability (the first Yes), its strategy is to say No to reserved seats, No to hot meals and No to inter-airline baggage transfers.

Saying No to these three services, previously considered essential passenger benefits, enables Southwest to organize its planes for an incredibly quick turnaround at airports. This then allows Southwest to say Yes (the second Yes) to affordable fares and to convenient schedules with reliable frequent flights — the qualities most valued by its customers.

So, saying No may seem soft, but it is really strategic and valuable in your business and personal life too!