Getting to Yes with Yourself

Getting to yes with yourself by William Ury is a nice book on how to negotiate with yourself better eventually leading to more happiness and better decisions. His earlier classic (he coauthored that with Roger Fisher) was Getting to yes which helped people change the way they negotiate with others at work and home. He however found that the most important negotiation we ever conduct is with ourselves.  So he says this book is a prequel to his earlier one. 
The following are the six key principles identified
  1. Put yourself in your shoes: The author says our natural tendency is to judge ourselves critically and to ignore or reject parts of ourselves. He gives the following 3 actions which can help
    1. See yourself from the balcony: The balcony is a metaphor for a mental and emotional place of perspective, calm and self-control. To observe ourselves it is valuable to go to the balcony at all times and especially before, during and after any problematic conversation or negotiation
    2. Listen with Empathy: Self judgement maybe the greatest barrier to self-understanding. If you wish to understand yourself listen with empathy.
    3. Uncover your needs: In what areas of your life are you not happy or fully satisfied? What then are your underlying needs? What do you most want? The more you understand your needs the more likely you will satisfy them. 
  2. Develop your Inner BATNA: The author advises to own your life. Self-understanding without self-responsibility runs the risk of dissolving into self-pity. Self-responsibility without self-understanding can deteriorate into self-blame. To get to yes with yourself you need both. BATNA stands for your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. Your BATNA gives the confidence that no matter what happens in the negotiation you have a good alternative.                                                                                                                   
  3. Reframe your picture: “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.The key questions here are What is our working assumption? Can we think, act and conduct our relationships as if the universe is essentially a friendly place and life is in fact on our side?We each have the capacity to take care of our own deeper needs for contentment. According to Dr. Robert A.Emmons one of the foremost scientific researchers on gratitude “We have discovered scientific proof that when people regularly work on cultivating gratitude, they experience a variety of measurable benefits: psychological, physical and social. Gratitude can lead to transformative life changes.”                                                                                                                  
  4. Stay in the Zone: if we want to get to yes in a sensitive situation the key is to look for the present opportunity, the chance to steer the conversation toward a yes. Our best performance comes from being in a state of relaxed alertness, paying attention to the here and now. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this state “flow”. Being fully present –being in the zone- you can surrender to the moment and play at your best. Learn to let go, accept your past and trust the future.                                                                                                                                 
  5. Respect them even if: To respect simply means to give positive attention and to treat the other with dignity with which you would like to be treated. If we want to get to yes with others there can be no more important way to begin than to give them basic human respect. Expand your circle of respect and respect them even if they reject you.                                                                                                                  
  6. Give and Receive: The key to finding win-win solutions that serve everyone is to be able to change the game from taking to giving. Giving lies at the heart of cooperation. Giving can simply mean looking for mutual gain, helping others at the same time as helping ourselves,
Overall I found every line in the book to have meaning. It is realistic, practical and easily actionable. There is a story from the author about his daughter Gabi which moved me. He says "Here she is, having undergone fourteen major surgeries, yet she doesn't lose any time looking back with resentment or regret or feeling sorry for herself. She shakes it off. She has a zest for life and finds enjoyment and excitement every day. If she can relax and stay in the zone, then I can do the same."


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