Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles BRIAN: Our guest today is Bill Ury. Bill's written and published several books. He's here with one of those books, which is "Getting to Yes with Yourself." As I read your press on your site, it's almost looking at it as a prequel to "Getting to Yes," which was your first book, which has been printed 12 million times in English and has been published in 37 languages. So we've got quite an accomplished, well read individual with us today. Other books are "The Third Side," "Getting Past No," and "The Power of a Positive No." But that's just a small bit of who Bill is. And I don't know if-- for those of you who I sent the link around to his page, I'll try not to bore you or try not to go on for too long. But he's the co-founder of Harvard's program on negotiation. And he's currently a distinguished senior fellow at Harvard, correct? But this is where it starts to get really, really interesting. He's worked providing mediation services in conflicts ranging from Kentucky coal mines to the Middle East and to the Balkans. He's worked with Jimmy Carter to create an organization to help avert or solve for civil wars where he's actually traveled to Indonesia and helped to resolve a civil war, and in Venezuela to prevent a civil war. So later today when you think you're really cool and you've closed that $20,000 upgrade for your client, think back to this and you'll put it in perspective, OK? It's still really cool. Go close it. But put it in perspective. He's also won several awards or been recognized many, many times for his work. There were one or two that jumped off the page for me. He's won a Distinguished Service medal from Russia for his work. So in addition to everything else that I've been telling you, he actually might be a spy for all we know. He has a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. from Harvard. The work that he's done in terms of global political conflict is just part of what he does. He also works with top corporate executives in training them to learn how to be better mediators and better negotiators. And what I'm really looking forward today is hearing how you kind of marry global conflict resolution to good business practices. And after Bill speaks with us for a few minutes and presents to us, I hope we can have a wide open conversation around that. We have between 15 and 20 of his most recent books here today, so after the talk if you'd like one, please grab one. If you'd really like one and there isn't one left for you, just get in touch with me afterwards and we'll get a few more for those people who really want them, OK? So thanks for coming today. Welcome, Bill. Bill, it's all yours. WILLIAM URY: OK. Thanks, Brian. [APPLAUSE] Appreciate it. That was quite an intro. What I want to talk with you this morning is really about what I think is one of the more important, valuable, useful skills that any of us can have in today's challenging times, and that's a skill of negotiation, of getting to yes, of trying to reach agreement with others. And as I've been in this field ever since I was a graduate student up the way here at Harvard many years ago, I've had kind of like a front seat view on something that I call a revolution that actually accompanies the knowledge revolution, the information revolution of which Google is a part, which is a more silent revolution, but it's a revolution in the way in which we as individuals, organizations, or societies make decisions. Because typically a generation or two ago, the main way in which people made decisions was people on the top of the pyramids of power gave the orders, and the people on the bottom simply followed the orders. And now thanks to the information revolution, those pyramids of power are starting to collapse into organizational forms that more resemble networks, flatter forms, more horizontal forms. And as that shifts, the form of decision making shifts from vertical to horizontal, and another name for horizontal decision making is negotiation, is getting yes. So that to get our jobs done nowadays, we're literally dependent on dozens, hundreds, thousands of individuals, organizations over whom we exercise no direct control. If we want to get to yes with them, we have to negotiate. So let me just actually ask you, if you don't mind, a few quick questions about your own negotiating experience. Because if you think about it, what I'm interested in is what stops us from getting the yes? So let me just ask you to think about your own experience for a moment here and ask yourself the question of, if I were to define negotiation very simply and very broadly as trying to reach agreement with someone-- you have some interests which maybe you hold in common like an ongoing relationship with a customer, and some interests which maybe are in tension with each other, like you'd like to get more money for your contract for Google, and maybe they'd like to pay you less, who do you find yourself negotiating with in the broad sense of the term in the course of your day? Just if you wouldn't mind just calling it out. Who do you negotiate with? AUDIENCE: Spouse. WILLIAM URY: Your spouse. OK, we'll start with the hard ones there. AUDIENCE: Your children. WILLIAM URY: Your children, OK. Who else? Your what? AUDIENCE: Colleagues. WILLIAM URY: Your colleagues. OK. Who else? AUDIENCE: Internal teams. WILLIAM URY: Your what? AUDIENCE: Internal teams. WILLIAM URY: Internal teams. Right. AUDIENCE: CMOs. WILLIAM URY: What was that? AUDIENCE: CMOs. WILLIAM URY: CMOs, OK. CMOs. Who else? AUDIENCE: My teenagers. WILLIAM URY: Your teenagers. OK. So it's at home, it's at work. Now if you were to kind of just make a ballpark estimate of how much of your time do you spend broadly speaking in the course of your day, engaged in the process of back and forth communication, trying to reach agreement with your teenagers, your spouse, your colleagues, your clients, your suppliers, your boss, the internal partners, and so on? What percentage of your time do you think it would be, what fraction of the time if you had to give it a certain percentage? What would you say? AUDIENCE: About half. AUDIENCE: Half. WILLIAM URY: Half. Yeah. How many would agree with that? It's at least half? OK. So we don't always think of it formally as negotiation, but in the informal sense, we're engaged in this process from the time we get up in the morning with our spouse, teenagers, kids, and so on to the time we go to bed at night. And so let me just ask you a couple other questions. I mean, would you say, maybe looking at the past, say, five or 10 years of your work career, would you say that the amount of time that you spend negotiating, has it stayed pretty steady? Does it go down over time as you get maybe more authority in your job? Or does it go up? What would you say? AUDIENCE: Up. WILLIAM URY: How many say it's going up? OK, almost all of you. So that's the negotiation revolution in form. And I've travelled around the world, and every country around the world I see this revolution taking place in the way in which we make decisions. More and more negotiation. And-- AUDIENCE: Even in Russia? WILLIAM URY: Even in Russia. [LAUGHS] Even in Russia. A little slower in Russia, but even in Russia. Yeah, no, absolutely. Well, you know, I used to go to Russia back in the days of the Cold War. And even though change has been slow sometimes, it's changed a lot since those days. There's a lot more negotiation going on. In fact, "Getting to Yes," I remember when it first came out, there were some Russian friends who wanted to translate it into Russian, but they thought negotiation was subversive. They didn't want to teach people how to negotiate because then they would challenge authority. But now there are Russian editions of it. So one thing that I think might be useful just for the next, you know, we've got this hour together here, is if you have in mind at least one challenging negotiation that you're currently facing, something, it might be just for yourself. It might be with your teenager or it might be with your customer, it might be an internal negotiation with a CMO, or whoever it is, have in mind some challenging negotiation, OK? Everyone got at least one in mind? So let me ask you a quick question then about the one you just selected. There are maybe two types of negotiations we engage in, the internal negotiations inside the organization with our colleagues and coworkers and so on, and then there are the external negotiations, let's say, with clients, for example, or suppliers. How many of you, just out of curiosity, have just selected an external situation? External. OK? How many of you selected an internal situation? OK. And just out of curiosity, if you had to say which one was harder, the negotiation inside or the negotiation outside, if you had to just make a broad generalization, which personally do you find more challenging? Internal negotiations or external? AUDIENCE: Internal. AUDIENCE: Internal. WILLIAM URY: How many would say external? OK. How many would say internal? OK. Great. I mean, obviously both can be challenging. But the great majority of hands go up on internal, which is interesting that oftentimes we experience the more challenging negotiations as being the ones with the people with whom supposedly we're on the same team working for the same mission, whatever, but those are often more challenging. Well over the years, my passion over the years has been helping people get to yes, individuals, organizations, societies, as Brian was mentioning, even in war-like situations. And the thing that sort of struck me over the years is when my colleagues and I wrote "Getting to Yes," the most frequent question we got for a while was, yeah, but how do you get to yes with the people who don't want to get to yes, you know? How do you deal with people who are kind of rigid and they're intransigent or they're using dirty tricks, or all kinds of things? So I kind of specialized in that for a long time.