Book Review: The Power of a Positive No

The Power of a Positive No is a book that aims to help readers say no positively by teaching readers how to sandwich their no in a yes.

William Ury, the author of this book, is an influential negotiator and mediator who is also the director of the Global Negotiation Project: a program under the Harvard Negotiation Project. In addition to this book, Ury also co-authored the popular book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In and wrote The Third Side, a guide on how anyone can keep conflicts from escalating into destructive and violent conflicts.

Like the Third Side, Positive Yes helps readers resolve conflicts positively by illustrating how to give a healthy no. This method allows a person to protect their interest and still preserve a strong relationship with the person receiving the no. The core concept explored throughout the book is learning how to “root your no in a yes.” Ury does a great job at explaining the steps and concepts with giving a positive no.

The way to your positive no is divided into three stages: figure out what are you saying yes to, find out what you are saying no to, and learn what to do to keep the relationship positive after you deliver your no (yes?). Following this 3-step formula, the book is divided into three stages. The first section of the book is about preparation.

The first thing Ury writes about is how to find out what you are saying yes to when you are are saying no. He gives a list of things you may be saying yes to in saying your no. Some examples are safety, survival, belonging and love, respect, freedom, and control over one’s fate. The next step in preparation is finding the confidence to express your no.

This chapter gives readers ideas about how to empower their no and frame their no in a way that does not accommodate, avoid, or attack the person receiving the no. The stage ends with preparing your way to yes, which surprisingly is about the basic principals of respect. The chapter has great stories and points like the following.

Basic respect begins with concrete behaviors, such as listening and acknowledgment.


Acknowledgment means treating the other … as a somebody, a fellow human being who exists and has needs and rights like anyone else.

This stage of the book concludes with ways to begin your positive no on a positive note. This includes ways to begin the conversation and how to frame the conversation as something the will benefit both people in the relationship.

The second stage is all about delivery. The first chapter of this stage tackles the idea of respectfully expressing your no. A variety of ways to express yourself, like using “We” “The” and “I” statements, are written about and some ways not to express yourself, like saying should, are also covered.

The second chapter is about asserting your no in the face of demands and inappropriate behaviors. Ury also writes about the benefits of saying no.

To survive and thrive, every human being and every organization needs to be able to say No to anything that threatens their safety, dignity, and integrity.

The emotional benefit of the “power of no” is further illustrated by an example of what it means when a child says no, “I exist! I have a right to my own feeling. I have right to my own opinions. I am me.” Ury surmises that learning how to say no is key to defining your identity, your individuality, or for a business – your brand. This stage of the book ends with how to propose your yes.

The third stage is about following through. It covers the second stage again in more detail with more ideals about how to manage the reactions of those affected by your no, tactics to sustaining your no and helping the other party understand your no, and how to cultivate a healthy relationship after everything has happened.

With that said.

There are times when the literature gets a bit repetitive and you may wonder if you’ve already read a section if you aren’t being attentive.

So, if you don’t mind repetition then I would highly suggest this book to anyone who has difficulty saying no or wants to improve how they say no. The book is solid and full of helpful tips that can be helpful to everyone and used with anyone.

Money CAN Buy You Happiness

Turns out all our common folklore on the power of money was wrong on this one. Money can buy you happiness, but only if you use it the right way. According to an article published by the Harvard Business School, money can buy you happiness as long as you spend the money on someone else.

The article states that even spending as little as $5 can “lead to increased well-being for the giver.” The results of this premise held true in three different studies conducted by a Harvard professor and two professors from University of British Columbia.

Maybe this explains my happiness at treating friends sometimes? [Also, if anyone needs to get happy always feel free to treat me. 😉 ]

Read the full article for more on the study and an interview with Michael I. Norton, the Harvard professor involved with the study.