Book: Getting to Yes with Yourself by William Ury

Getting to Yes with Yourself by William Ury is a well written self help book that emphasizes the importance of understanding one’s own self before embarking upon dealing with others and the broader world.

Getting to Yes with Yourself

Getting to Yes with Yourself by William Ury is a well written self help book that emphasizes the importance of understanding one’s own self before embarking upon dealing with others and the broader world. The writer is famous for being coauthor of another book ‘Getting to Yes’, which explores the framework for successful negotiation with other people. In the current book, author builds on the premise of turning negotiating inwards and finally getting comfortable with self after using the framework as laid out in this book.

Book Summary

The book is divided in to 6 chapters. Each of these six chapters is a step in to getting to yes with yourself, author calls these 6 step method as ‘The Inner Yes Method’.

Put Yourself in Your Shoes

The first chapter is about moving from self-judgement to self understanding. Author acknowledges that understanding one’s own self is the most hardest thing but to be truly content, one need to have self understanding. In this regard, the technique he proposes is to observe oneself by imagining like you are observing yourself from a balcony. The writer suggests to observe from balcony, before or during any conflict or negotiations to understand the true needs.

Self -observation is the foundation of self-mastery.

William Ury

Develop your Inner BATNA

BATNA stands for ‘Best alternative to negotiated agreement’, which means the best alternative to your desired outcome in any negotiation, it is like your second best option. In this chapter author explores this powerful concept of developing an inner BATNA, which allows us to shed the victim mentality and thereby empowering us with self responsibility. The caveat here is that inner BATNA can only be developed when you have self understanding which was theme of first chapter.

Self-understanding without self-responsibility runs the risk of dissolving into self-pity. Self-responsibility without self-understanding can deteriorate into self-blame.

William Ury

Reframe Your Picture

The third chapter highlights the effect of seeing positivity in life to achieve happiness no matter the circumstances which should bring out the gratitude for life. Gratitude for life does not mean denying what is painful but being able to understand the bigger picture. Herein, writer highlights the research of Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, which suggests that major events or traumas that occurred three months or earlier have little to no effect on our present happiness.

If we can reframe our picture to realize that life is not against us and the hardships or struggles are part of life which do not make us victim rather it is something to be understood in broader context and valuable lessons be drawn out of it. Happiness is not something to be pursued outside but it is actually something that we make inside.

Stay in the Zone

A very important concept mentioned in the fourth chapter is to achieve and stay in the personal zone of best performance to achieve maximum results in any given scenario or negotiation. Zone can be defined as a state of relaxed alertness, paying attention to the here and now.

Writer emphasizes that to achieve the state of being in zone requires:

  • First to accept the past because if we don’t let go of our resentment and regret, we become prisoners of the past. We may not have power to change the past but we do have power to assign meaning to it.
  • Second to trust the future without any worries or anxiety. Herein, writer suggest that the way to free yourself from unnecessary fears is to remember your inner BATNA and your Yes to Life.

Once you are accepting of past and comfortable with future than focus on present to get in to zone.

Respect Them Even If

The fifth chapter is about giving respect to your opponent no matter how much resistance is being faced. Author emphasizes that best way to listen to others is to bring an attitude of respect, in other words, full positive attention and regard. This is especially hard when you already have feeling of antagonism toward them but at the same time it is most effective in this scenario. One important aspect mentioned in this chapter is that before you are able to extend respect others, you need to have self understanding and only than you will be able to respect them.

Give and Receive

The last chapter in book emphasizes the importance changing the receiving mindset to giving. Only when you are able to change the game from taking to giving than you can convert any situation from win-lose to win-win for all parties involved. Author acknowledges that over his many decades of experience, he has seen student reverting back to win-lose behavior as soon as they face real conflict under the influence of emotions or fear of scarcity as it is hard to train oneself for giving mindset. The writer suggest that to strengthen our attitude of giving, one need to finds a purpose or activity that makes us natural giver like caring for family, playing music or creating art as these activities will bring inner satisfaction as well as strengthen the giver in us.

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