The walk from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ – William Ury

From the outset, I am going to recommend you listening to the Ted talk from William Ury on The walk from No to Yes. 

William Ury is an author, academic and a negotiation expert.  In this Ted talk, he gives some examples of difficult negotiation skills that he had to see his way thru.  Impossible situations that see no resolution, that he is able to resolve.  

This talk is some 10 years old, but so relevant for us today in any relationship that we find ourselves in.  Relationship within work situations, spouse, family, anything really.  The keys that he uses are keys that we can use in everyday life.  


While I was researching William, a questions came up in my feed asking, Is William Ury a master of his craft?   The answer that came  back and the research I have done, absolutely confirms that William Ury is a true master of his craft. Wise and realistic, noble and practical, brilliant and approachable, Ury has created a definitive body of work on how we can get to yes in our conflicted world. 

With Covid-19 impact every corner of our world, we have an increase in domestic violence, an increase in mental health issues, an increase in drug related, alcohol fueled relationships.  I believe that we all need to hear these keys and use them.  


First Key

Recognise that in everything we have two sides, but also acknowledge that there is a third side, and what is the third side?

The third side of any conflict is us, it’s the surrounding community, it’s the friends, the allies, the family members, the neighbors. And we can play an incredibly constructive role. 

William states that what happens here is we can bring logic to the situation – what’s the stake?  For the sake of the kids, for the sake of the future, let’s stop fighting.  

Whenever we are in conflict, we are going to be powered by emotion, or it could be an emotive subject, by what happens that in our emotive state we start to lose perspective.  we can over react and if you anything like me, you start to run away with your mouth.  Lose temper and not see what the other person can’t see your point of view.  

So the third side takes us to the balcony.  

I learnt this many years ago, about the dance floor and the balcony.  It was used to start to look at situations and mitigate the risks.  

We had been told to get of the dance floor (where the action is) and getting up to the balcony (where the perspective is)  This image captures the mental activity of stepping back in the midst of action to see what is really going on.  


Second key

William Ury talks about the importance of stories.  So relevant.  Stories are what we transmit knowledge, we hold what’s important and retell history.  What a story reflects is the origin or the root of what its all about.  

What if you can find out the root of the problem.  Then work on the root first to solve the conflict.  



What if all of us became the third side in all conflict and we showed peace.  Each of us, with a single step, can take the world, can bring the world a step closer to peace.

To do that we need to change  the frame. How you see things.  If we can change the frame, then we can resolve conflict.  Look at what’s important to us.  


Personally, my husband and I very seldom arguments.  I learnt years ago to always step back onto the balcony and change the frame in which I see the situation.  I do not make decisions or set of on a rant when I am angry, as so many things come bubbling out that is usually uncontrollable.  I would prefer to be a woman, that is known for being very considered in my words.  

William Ury finally challenges those listening to the TED Talk, to start to take a TED walk.  It’s a very small step, but it’s engaging in a conversation with someone else and LISTEN to them. That’s a third side ACT. 

It’s not easy, but small act’s can begin to change.  


The Power of A Positive No

The most powerful word in the language is one that most people find difficult to say. Yet when we know how to use it correctly, it has the power to profoundly transform our lives. That word is ‘No’.
In Getting to Yes, William Ury helped millions of people across the world discover how to transform their working and personal relationships by saying Yes.

Totally recommend this book – get it from amazon.

Getting Past No

This will show you how to “get past no” via a 5 step process:

  • Step 1: Don’t React (Go to the Balcony)
  • Step 2: Disarm Them (step to their side)
  • Step 3: Change the Game (don’t reject… reframe)
  • Step 4: Build he Golden Bridge (make it easy to say yes)
  • Step 5: Don’t Escalate – Use Power to Educate (make it hard to say no)

This one is also available on amazon.  

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