Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes” as Want to Read:
The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,322 ratings  ·  228 reviews
No is perhaps the most important and certainly the most powerful word in the language. Every day we find ourselves in situations where we need to say No–to people at work, at home, and in our communities–because No is the word we must use to protect ourselves and to stand up for everything and everyone that matters to us.

But as we all know, the wrong No can also destroy w
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2007)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Power of a Positive No, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Power of a Positive No

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,322 ratings  ·  228 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Yes, I know you are here to read a review.
No. I won't write the review you want to read.
Yes, I will still capture my thoughts on the book, but it will not be a review you want to read.

Saying "No" can be nerve-racking. The disapproval and judgement we may receive in saying "No" can deter many people from properly expressing themselves. Why do we feel this? More importantly, is this a problem? It is a problem, in that by not saying "No", you do not stand up for your "Yes". You cannot say "Yes" to
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like most self-help books, this book didn't need to be this long.

The recommended way to say "no" is as follows: "Yes! No. Yes?"

That is, first state the positive value you're seeking to protect. Next, state plainly and without insult your refusal to do what the other person asks. Then offer an alternative that might be mutually agreeable.

This actually works, and makes sense for a wide range of cases. It allows for the possibility of future cooperation, but also works if no such possibility exists
Dr. Ruth Neustifter
I read this book after exiting a difficult situation as best I could, yet feeling that I somehow didn't do it as well as I should have. Although I tend to shy away from both business books and self-help books, unless I know the author well, this one just called out to me from the shelf. Thank goodness I snapped it up.

Basically, the book coaches the reader on socially advisable routes to keep yourself and your family well balanced. That's a huge undertaking, but it does it simply by advising on
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who finds it difficult to say "No"
Recommended to Kipi by: ACU
Can "no" actually mean "yes"? Yes, it can, according to William Ury in The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes. I read his book Getting to Yes about a year ago and feel, as a mediator, this book is much more helpful and practical because it focuses on the importance of relationship over that of reaching a "deal."

This paragraph in the final chapter sums up the author's message:
The great problem today is that we have divorced our Yeses from our Nos. Yes without No is appeas
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a self-help book in the bad sense of the word. It's too long, repetitive and annoying. With anonomyous examples of John doing this and that. Somewhere in there is a mix of bragging about negotiating international incidents or workforce debates.

The book could have been a paragraph:
Say NO, by first understanding what you want to say YES to. When you do, it becomes clear why you MUST say NO. Don't be emotional while negotiating. Be factual and present your side with keeping in mind the oth
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, own
Provides a framework for how to say No in a Positive manner. Good points, examples to support concepts, just a bit long.
Christopher Willey
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
No it’s a powerful word, the building blocks of life have inherent “no” in them. Permeable membrane are a no with conditions.

So I found myself in a lurch after the presidential election of 2016 in the United States. There was a change of power in my department as well as shifting social tensions in my area, and all of that resulted in the realization that I needed to be a better leader. I needed to use the authority that I had within my spheres of influence and start in my space and the people
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I really like William Ury as an author. He founded the Harvard Negotiation Project and writes good negotiation books. His first book Getting to Yes, is a good book on negotiation theory. His second Getting past no, talks about difficult negotiations. His third, the power of the positive no could really be the first in the series with self analysis of what you really want before you negotiate.

I should have read this book years ago! I like his idea that no is really yes to what you really want. H
Aug 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
Heaven knows I needed the information from this book, however, it could and should have been covered in 4-5 chapters instead of 12. The author's main contribution is helping the individual recognize and feel good about a proper no with his yes, no, yes formula. Yes to my underlying need/value, no to the current proposition, and Yest to opening further dialogue. ...more
More than 20 years ago, I was introduced to William Ury's concepts of "Getting Past No" and "Getting to Yes" during conflict negotiation and mediation - and several of his key phrases have stuck with me ever since. I'd still like to re-read each of those books as well, but noticed my library had this on audio so I grabbed it. It's an excellent read, and I highly recommend it. ...more
Kara of BookishBytes
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book outlines a reliable formula for telling people "no" without ruining your relationship with them. Mr. Ury's strategy focuses on articulating your personal priority or value that overrides your willingness to help someone. For example, "I have been working a lot recently and promised my family that I'd spend the weekend with them, so I can't help you move on Saturday." And then to follow that up with something you can offer to do for them in the future, such as, "But can I stop by once y ...more
Eileen Sauer
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is "must read" for everyone. More important than getting to yes, is being able to say no to all of the things that prevent you from accomplishing the things you say yes to. Doing this in a graceful way is even harder. Saying yes when you really mean no means being a pushover. Saying a blunt no can hurt feelings and close doors. So how do you do this in a graceful way? The key is by balancing what would appear to be contradictory characteristics and this book shows how to do this. ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
was an okay book, a bit too much description and examples, but thats how they explain it right
Ben Rogers
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding book on how to negotiate yourself towards declining things that take up your life, and how to make it not backfire.

Nopadol Rompho
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It's so practical and it will definitely benefit me and other readers. Time management techniques can't help you if you keep saying 'yes' to all requests. But how do we say 'no' without losing the good relationship. Read this book and you will find the answer. ...more
Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
No. Such a simple word yet it's so hard to use. Most of us take on far too much because we are afraid to say no and for good reason. We've all had experiences were we did actually muster the courage to say no and felt extremely guilty afterwards. Moreover, the person who we said no to often gets mad at us and that simple word starts a huge drama. In the end, it would have been much easier just to shut our mouths.

Evidentially, our problem wasn't saying the word but in how we go about saying No.
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Yes. No. Yes.

That pretty much sums up this book. My entire grad school negotiation course was based on Ury's first book "Getting to Yes", so, I figured I'd give this one a try too. I was extremely pleased with the book. I did not realize how many times in a day this would come in handy. It is nice to be able to confidently say no to people without having it be confrontational. Or, even worse caving in just to try and keep the other party happy. The book uses the phrase "How can I stand on my fe
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ury, William (2007), The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes, Bantam Books, New York, NY. This book is the piece de resistance for Willam Ury. It addresses a challenge that many leaders face in negotiation: How to firmly yet gracefully say “no” in any negotiation, yet still have the door open to future win/win collaboration. A must read for anyone who negotiates anything. That is, for everyone.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alternative angle to a negotiation process.

It took me 2,5 years to finish this book apparently. In the end I've to say I've really liked this book and applied many of the lessons I've learned from it.

Above all my key learning has been that No actually allows you and everyone else to focus what really matters. No well used is a constructive force.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in negotiation and getting better results for everyone.

Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This was a great book, very practical and useful. I haven't read his more popular Getting to Yes book, but I think this was a better fit for the type of tools I was looking for. The approach, examples, and methodology where super solid, simple to understand and extremely practical. Honestly found myself using it in several instances already that hadn't been my original intention. Good stuff. ...more
Lloyd Dalton
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was shorter, more direct, and more valuable than the earlier two books in the trilogy (Getting to Yes and Getting past No).
Chris Schutte
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of helpful advice on saying "no", especially relevant for leaders. ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-clients, work, act

In one sentence: A positive No is about achieving “the kind of success that can come only from being true to yourself and respectful to others.”

In one paragraph: “The great problem today is that we have divorced our Yeses from our Nos. Yes without No is appeasement, whereas No without Yes is war. Yes without No destroys one's own satisfaction, whereas No without Yes destroys one's relationship with others. We need both Yes and No together. Yes is the key word of community, No the key word of ind
Anand Kumar
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just finished reading “ The Power of Positive No” by William Ury.

The First thing I relished about this book is about the title - It’s so flattening to read when the belief is always that “No” is not good.
It’s a must be read book for people who are like me, who find arduously in saying or using “No” and give a special invite to unwanted challenges in life.
It’s a fanciful read illustrating how lamentable most of us are at expressing no by thinking consequences. It springs us a procedural approac
Vanessa Princessa
I read this book thanks to Blinkist.

The key message in these blinks:

Believe it or not, saying no can be a beginning rather than an end. When you give a Positive No, you do so by affirming your heartfelt intention, firmly standing up for yourself, while also keeping the door open for future possibilities. Communicating with such clarity not only builds your self-esteem but also establishes stronger relationships.

Actionable advice:

Once a day, give a Positive No.

Remember that a Positive No, in its
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was one of hundreds of books recommended in Tim Ferriss' Tribe of Mentors, and it's totally worthwhile. One of the questions in the book is, "In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?" and so many of the contributors admitted to sucking at saying no (and so do I).

Here's Ury's formula, excerpted from Lifehacker:

The structure of a positive no is a "Yes! No. Yes? state
Vân Khánh
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In our life, there are many circumstances in which we have to say NO. Of course saying NO sounds quite easy - NO means NO. But just imagine when you have to say NO to your boss, to your colleague, to your customer, it can be another challenge of refusing without damaging the relationship. This book has showed me another aspect of NO, which means YES. Some of the tips that I am really impressed and can be applied in every refusal are:
-Think carefully about the reason why you have to say NO, this
Synthia Salomon
My toddler mastered no in a way that taught me to reclaim it for myself and in my life. “Believe it or not, saying no can be a beginning rather than an end. When you give a Positive No, you do so by affirming your heartfelt intention, firmly standing up for yourself, while also keeping the door open for future possibilities. Communicating with such clarity not only builds your self-esteem but also establishes stronger relationships.

Actionable advice:

Once a day, give a Positive No.

Remember that a
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
As Ury claims, this really is the complement to Getting to Yes. It's arguably more important because it focuses on something that most people find hard to do, and yet saying no is so critical to the success of any person or team. This book first explains how to think about the "no" situation and then how to go about it. It goes deeper than just laying out a bunch of tactics. At the core, you have to know what you're saying yes to that makes it necessary to reject some other action. What you say ...more
Frank Rodrigue
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a great read for people who are requested to participate in events and help people all the time. If you've ever been in a professional situation where you would rather not get involved at all or in a personal situation where you want to say but are afraid of downgrading the quality of the relationship. This is for you. The first 2/3 of the book will definitely be informative while providing some concrete suggestions whereas the back end of the book becomes somewhat redundant as the ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • How to Be an Epicurean: The Ancient Art of Living Well
  • Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction
  • The Psychology of Intelligence
  • The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks to Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace
  • Anxious: Using the Brain to Understand and Treat Fear and Anxiety
  • The Scrum Fieldbook: A Master Class on Accelerating Performance, Getting Results, and Defining the Future
  • Don't Take Yes for an Answer: Using Authority, Warmth, and Energy to Get Exceptional Results
  • Noise: Living and Leading When Nobody Can Focus
  • Die with Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life
  • Talking to GOATs: The Moments You Remember and the Stories You Never Heard
  • The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America
  • A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond
  • Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators
  • #Upcycle Your Job: The smart way to balance family life and career
  • Unapologetically Ambitious: Take Risks, Break Barriers, and Create Success on Your Own Terms
  • The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: Achieve More Success with Less Stress: Foreword by Cal Newport, Author of So Good They Can't Ignore You
  • The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less
  • How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices
See similar books…
William L. Ury co-founded Harvard's Program on Negotiation where he currently directs the Global Negotiation Initiative. He is the author of The Power of a Positive No How to Say No Still Get to Yes (2007) and co-author (with Roger Fisher) of Getting to Yes Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In , a five-million-copy bestseller translated into over twenty languages. "No other book in the f ...more

News & Interviews

  Listen up, because our colleagues here at Goodreads have some excellent audiobook recommendations for you! Of course, the books they've...
13 likes · 7 comments
“The other often much prefers a clear answer, even if it is No, than continued indecision and waffling.” 3 likes
“As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” 2 likes
More quotes…