By Tania Almeida *

With publication date of 2015, William Ury, co-author of 'How to get to SIM, without making concessions', and co-founder of Harvard Negotiation Project, enchants us with yet another methodology focused on negotiation. This time, after years of practice, it comes to the overwhelming conclusion that we are the most difficult people in a negotiation, our biggest opponents. Guided by this belief, Ury suggests that we get up in the morning and look in the mirror with the following question: how will you take care of yourself, aiming to contribute to better manage your day and the natural negotiations that everyday imposes? He transformed this questioning into a daily practice and invites us to do the same.

The author and anthropologist draws attention to the fact that we sabotage our own interests with reactions and a hostile 'win-lose' mentality, supported by the sense of scarcity that leads us to practice the assumption that only one party must be victorious in a negotiation. Changing this perspective can deconstruct our biggest obstacle, which prevents us from achieving what we want, transforming it into our greatest opportunity - influencing us before influencing the other is the basis of this proposal.

The book "How to get to SIM with yourself ” it brings countless example cases, most with public characters that we know, begins and ends highlighting the negotiation of the Brazilian administrator and businessman Abílio Diniz with his partners, which took place in four days with the help of Ury, after two and a half years of litigation, two arbitrations and a judicial process.

What undid the imbroglio, reveals Ury, was working with Abílio the YES with himself, from the answer to the question: what do you want most in life at this moment? "Freedom ... to be with the family and make my dreams and new businesses come true" was the answer. Focusing on that objective made any eventual loss, or perceived loss in the negotiation, relative, and made the dialogue flow.

The method

In order to be able to influence ourselves before influencing the other, Ury invites six steps that must be observed daily, not only aiming at negotiations, but, in particular, living with all our surroundings.

  1. Put yourself in your place - listening empathetically to their basic needs, as they would a client, work partner or person who is dear to their relationship.
  2. Develop your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement or the “Best Alternative to an Agreement”) interior - do not blame or blame the other. Make a commitment to look after your own interests regardless of what others do or don't do. Become responsible for your life and your relationships.
  3. Refram your panorama - do not let yourself be overwhelmed by the fear of scarcity seeing a competitor in the other. Create your own sources of satisfaction, independent and self-sufficient, even in the face of adversity.
  4. Stay in the present - the present moment is the only one in which you can experience satisfaction and also the only one in which you can change a situation (for the better).
  5. Respect others - do not be reactive. Surprise the other with respect and inclusion, even if he offers you disrespect and exclusion.
  6. Know how to give and receive - change the game so that everyone wins, and give something before you even receive.

William Ury shows that with the first two steps above, we say YES to ourselves. With the third and fourth, we say YES for life. And with the last two, we say YES to the other. It is as if each SIM paves the way for the next. Isn't it sensational?

The positive and natural impacts of good practices

The biggest impact, according to Ury, concerns the way of being in life, reviewing paradigms and initiating changes from us.

Below, I share specific impacts that each step of the method makes possible:

  1. From self-judgment to self-knowledge - put yourself in your place it makes it possible to clarify what we want, which ends up helping us to put ourselves also in the other's place and legitimize their needs. The invitation is to go to the box (a metaphor recursively used by Ury) and look at our own actions (and reactions) from outside the scene. Being researchers of ourselves towards self-knowledge, reducing self-judgment and, consequently, the judgment of the other. Impact? More empathetic listening to our needs and the needs of others
  2. From blame to responsibility - develop your inner BATNA it involves giving up the benefit of blaming someone and making us innocent. Along with self-knowledge, made possible by the first step of the method, self-responsibility for relationships and actions would come. The more we need the other to meet our needs the more power we give him / her. Impact? We exercise the power of protagonism and the sense of freedom.
  3. From hostility to cordiality - refram your panorama it encourages to change the frame of the scenes and make them more favorable to us and to each other. The ability to confer interpretations and meanings is a liberality of ours and our responsibility. There remains an invitation to transform competition into collaboration, adversity into opportunity, enemies into allies. Impact? Changing the frame makes it possible to change the game, the attitudes, the actions - it is within us the capacity to build frames that awaken and use the best of our skills.
  4. From resistance to acceptance - stay in the present it makes it possible to identify a list of initiatives (practices) that each can handle at the exact moment of the conversation, in response to the other. It makes it possible to explore the present opportunity to adopt constructive actions. Ury confesses to having learned from his colleague and mentor Roger Fisher the power of this intervention. It reveals that it was a usual question in Fisher's work: “Who can do what today, to lead this conflict towards a solution?” Impact? In the present, there is an opportunity to do things differently, to use our creativity, identify opportunities, accept the past and build a better future.
  5. From exclusion to inclusion - respect others it is the cheapest concession that can be made, says Ury. The cycle of mutual destruction is interrupted by the offer to treat the other with dignity, as this is the right of all human beings. Putting ourselves in the other's shoes and understanding their reasons, may be the necessary motivation to offer them respect, despite the treatment received. In fact, this is the first rule of hostage negotiation - preserving cordiality, giving the kidnapper an opportunity to speak and pay attention to his point of view. Impact? Transform exclusion into inclusion, making it possible to build a solution with others, even if they are adversaries.
  6. From 'win-lose' to 'win-win-win' - knowing how to give and receive, anticipating giving when receiving takes us out of the waiting room, expecting the other to be the one who makes the first move. It also distances us from the allure of striving for better results for us rather than creating value for both in the negotiation. Dedicating equal assertiveness to everyone's needs leads us towards mutual benefit. Impact? Victory for us, for the other and for the context / surroundings - 'win-win-win'.

Ury ends the book wishing that the reflections promoted transcend our effectiveness when negotiating with others and lead us to an inner satisfaction with the change in attitudes that the method proposes, having a positive impact on our daily relationships.

May they also benefit from implementing the care proposed by SIM with ourselves!

So, our next meeting is already scheduled, when we will talk about “When the majority is not enough - collective bargaining method for building consensus ”, Larry Susskind, Jeffrey Cruikshank and Yann Duzert. Until then!


How to get to YES with yourself - the first step in any negotiation, conflict or difficult conversation, William Ury

144 pages





* Tania Almeida - Master in Conflict Mediation and Facilitator of Dialogues between individuals and / or legal entities. For 40 years, she has been designing and coordinating dialogue processes aimed at mapping, crisis prevention, change management and conflict resolution. She is the creator and founder of the MEDIARE System, a set of three entities dedicated to dialogue - research, service provision, education and social projects.

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