Usually I reserve book recommendations for the recommendation section. But William Ury’s book, The Power of a Positive No : How to Say No and Still Get to Yes, is potentially so transformative that I wanted to share with you a bit of what I distilled after reading it and using the suggested strategies.
The step by step process he sets out can help you set your boundaries (say NO) based on your values and needs, while still retaining your relationships.
If you have ADD and impulsiveness is a challenge for you, then you likely have experienced the effects of communicating in a way that not only damages your relationships, but does not get you what you want.
You may know what you want or don’t want in a given situation. What you also need is an effective strategy that would enhance your chances of actually achieving that objective.
If you have ever had trouble setting boundaries ( and who hasn’t?), I encourage you to read this book.
Stepping out onto the balcony
Recently I moved, and was having work done to our new place. I found myself getting increasingly frustrated as the work dragged on and on and… Ok, you get it. Many times I just wanted to say forget it, but that would be shooting myself in the foot; I really did want the work done.
Since I was in the middle of reading Ury’s book, I decided to give his strategy a try. (Below are a few excerpts from the email I sent regarding the time table for the work that needed to be done.)
So, rather than throw in the towel, I went to the balcony, which is how Ury refers to the time necessary to think and gain clarity. It can be 5 minutes, an hour or a week.
While out on the balcony, the first step is gaining clarity on the underlying needs or values in setting a particular boundary. That is, identifying what we are saying yes to.
In taking the time I needed to think, I was able to conclude that I needed to have my time and space respected. I also needed peace and quiet in my home, which are important values for me. Once I knew what I wanted, I could communicate these ( my YES).
As I try to establish some normalcy and consistency for ________ (my daughter), the time available for work to be done will be very limited now that summer is coming to close.
After delivering a YES, the next step is to respectfully set boundaries, say NO. Only after communicating my YES did I express my NO.
Next Saturday from 10:00-2:00 will work for you to work on the kitchen. I do want to have work completed by 2:00. I imagine that this will only give you enough time to scrap. We will have to negotiate another time to paint.
Concluding with a YES
Then I concluded the email with a YES, intended to maintain the relationship
If this does not work for you, please let me know, and we can agree on another mutually convenient time.
My initial impulsive response was to say, “forget it”! This would not have served my interest at all. By using Ury’s strategy, I was able to say NO and still get to YES.
Here is what I received in response to my email:
Saturday from 10:00-2:00 will work for me too. No problem about your schedule limitations, I’m sure we’ll find some mutually suitable times to finish what we are set to do.
He was out by 2:00, whereas on previous occasions he had worked far beyond the time limit I had set. Although I can’t be sure, I think underscoring why (my values and needs) it was important to me for him to be out by 2:00 helped ensure that my request was respected.
Hmm…, I achieved my objectives, a painted kitchen, respectful communication and clear boundaries. It worked.
Get the book and try it yourself. Let me know how it works.