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Volume VI, Number 3 • March 2013 • Archive of Past Issues
An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association
Written by Linda B. Bulmash

This Month's Topic:
How to Say "No" Without Scuttling the Negotiation*

It is not uncommon for people to feel anxious about saying "No" in any situation, but even more so at the end of a negotiation. In his book, The Power of a Positive No*, William Ury comes up with a three-step process that he refers to as "Yes! No. Yes?" However, this is a strong caveat: this process requires you have a plan B alternative and are ready to accept the fact that the other side might walk away. Here's how it works:

1. Set the other side up for the "no" by clarifying and asserting your need/interests. "I appreciate your efforts to work through these issues. I feel hopeful that we will be able resolve our differences because I value our relationship and hope it will grow in the future."

2. Deliver the "no" in a respectful and firm manner. "I have seriously evaluated your offer and have concluded that to protect my … I cannot accept your last offer. If you cannot accept what I have offered and need to move forward, I will have to accept that." Do not talk a lot nor become overly apologetic.

3. Now propose the "Yes?". Go to your plan B. "On the other hand, if you can accept my latest offer, I would be willing to revisit …. How does that sound to you?"

* William Ury, The Power of a Positive No (Bantam, 2007)

LACBA member Linda B. Bulmash, Esq., writes the Negotiation Tips. You can contact her at:
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