Aug 16, 2021

The combination of hard work and dedication from William Ury produced an engaging book about the ways and tricks employed by just about every person in the fields of law and politics—whether in the municipal or international sphere: Getting Past No. 


The best takeaway from this book, however, is not the art of negotiation that one can imagine in high-tension tug-of-wars outside the courtroom or on international negotiation tables; but rather, the knowledge, wisdom and advantages that a normal layman can use on a daily basis. The book is a direct and interesting guide on how to turn tables; and in fact, to a certain extent, a mischievous crash course to always getting your way. Of course, in the final analysis, how the reader chooses to apply and use what he learns from the know-hows of experts is his call; and the book is neither fundamentally good, nor fundamentally evil. 


You may, however, thank William several times a day for landing you a discount at a 7-Eleven on a Chicken Sandwich they’re about to throw out, or convincing your girlfriend that playing Player Unknown Battle Grounds (PUBG, a popular shooting video game) for four hours straight—without so much as a text—is all the justifiable reason and proof she needs to be happy because at the very least, you are not cheating on her. For purposes of a good laugh in the midst of an intellectual discussion, please allow me to employ the comedic scene of the second instance for this book summary and review.

Essentially, there are several steps to getting past no. The book doesn’t mention it; but the first one is probably not to give up at the initial negative response. At any rate, the book says that the first thing to do is basically winning the internal battle: controlling one’s own behaviour. 


Negotiation is a part of our lives whether we are trying to get the best deal in a conflict involving property or when we simply want our girlfriends to understand and accept our unhealthy addiction of violent games. When she says no, glares at us, or starts to guilt-trip her demands into our psyche, causing us to rile up inside, GETTING PAST NO tells us not to react. 


Take a step back; observe her beautiful hair—complement her if you can—and then quietly analyse where she is coming from, if you still don’t know. We must not objectify women, but we should always have an objective view to see things as they are. Understand what her interests are—women in love can be quite simple; she may simply be in love with you and want to spend more time with you.

Quite equally, they can be scornful specimens of life who carry baggage from their previous relationships, and she is probably quite convinced that in addition to her, you want another one. She might start lashing out because counter-intuitive responses are always easier to come up with in the heat of the moment; so do not do the same. Take a step back, and while you tell her how she looks great, determine your best alternative to a negotiated settlement. Perhaps a 2-hour game time in the next match, or the same 4-hour duration of unadulterated child’s play which she will be more than happy to tolerate: your call. 

Next, disarm her. No—I am not assuming your girlfriend carries a butterfly knife with her; but women have emotional defences that make them tricky, adorable grumpy fiends. You cannot be angry when she already is; so give her reassurance to help her regain her mental balance. God knows what an angry woman can do: appease her not only by apologizing, but apologizing in the best way possible. One must make her believe that she is being listened to; so slowly ease her into a position where she feels comforted and validated. Besides, in the final analysis, her behaviour can be justified—sort of.


Then, we change how the problem looks. Reframe the problem in terms of interest instead of positions: ask her the open-ended questions, and all the why’s you can possibly fathom, to determine what she really wants and needs beneath what she says. 


Despite being more expressive than men, women can also have difficulty in making their needs come across as how they should be portrayed. Do not assume she is attacking you for the reason that you are clearly more addicted to a violent battle royale than you are to her, but that she simply dislikes the game itself or the simple fact of playing it. But what if you simply needed to de-stress or what if instead of playing in the comforts of your room, you’re out drinking with the guys and hanging out with the girls at the same place, right? What if are powerful words. Use them wisely.


The fourth step is finally finishing the bridge through which she can cross over to your side. PUBG is good. Or at the very least, not that bad. But the tricky part is to letting her realise and see the bridge for herself without knowing that you are basically pushing her towards it. The prey must have choices; or at the very least, believe that she does. You cannot tell a woman what to do, show her what she can do instead. She can sit with you as you play, she can stay on call with you, or better yet, the both of you can play together. And as you have done in the beginning of this piece, allow her to take a step back—or as metaphorically stated in the book, go to the balcony. 

Then finally, we seal the deal to getting that sweet “Yes… you can play for as long as you want.” by making it difficult for her to say no. You can bat your huge eyes and wink at her; you might even threaten her by asking space or breaking off the relationship. DO NOT DO THAT: remember, our goal is to play for as long as we want—or at least for 4 hours—without becoming single. 


The more you use power, the more she is going to be defensive, causing her to even retaliate with a response just as undesirable. As a consequence, we’re going be adding more problems that we have to defuse as we go along the last 10 minutes of the discussion. Do you force her to your side, force her to her senses. At the end of the day, love quarrels can be easily solved with logic: when couples argue with emotions, they end up changing facebook status and taking groufies with friends and a few bottles of red horse—nasty stuff. But that doesn’t mean you cannot use power at all, you simply need to use it along with conciliatory moves. Neutralise the situation: especially her comebacks. 


Allow her to see what could happen if the two of you do not arrive at a solution to the problem—which, quite honestly, is you—so ask your common friends, or better yet, ask her best friend to help you, treat her to ice cream afterwards for helping you convince your girlfriend to enable your addiction. Having a third party join in is not exactly advisable in a quarrel between lovers: but also, the two of you aren’t exactly having a quarrel, are you? Wouldn’t it be more advisable to see it as a negotiation? Albeit one where she gives and all you do is take. Of course, you can be a better man by allowing concessions—just remember your best alternative to a negotiated settlement. 

So at the end of day, all that you have to do is win her over. Negotiations are, after all, not about winning or losing but winning together. And in this particular example, you may get to play for as long as you want, and she may feel secure and alright with it. Either way, the conflict is solved and nobody is single. Yet. 

Getting past no is definitely a must read; comedy aside, I actually didn’t expect that it would explore more about the human psyche than anything else. To me, it is an outlay for truly understanding people and not simply the positions they are taking. It verbalizes the basics of resolving conflicts together.