2012 Global Leadership Summit Session 5b: William L. Ury

william ury -2012Session 5 – Getting to Yes: Negotiating Conflict
William L. Ury

Co-Founder and Senior Fellow,
Harvard University’s Program on Negotiation

  • A negotiator and mediator, with 30 years practical experience in conflicts ranging from corporate mergers to ethnic wars in the Middle East; founder of the Abraham Path Initiative
  • A social anthropologist and teacher, he is the author of award-winning business books, including Getting to Yes, an eight million copy best seller
  • Co-founder of the International Negotiation Network with President Jimmy Carter, a non-governmental body seeking to end civil wars
  • Worked with U.S. and Soviet governments to create nuclear crisis centers—and has served as a third party mediator to avert civil wars in Indonesia and Venezuela

Session notes

  • Interviewed by Jim Mellado
  • Think about how much time you spend communicating in an effort to reach agreement?  We’re negotiating literally from the time we wake up in the morning til the time we go to bed at night.
  • Because most decisions are made with others, negotiations become the preeminent means of making decisions.
  • The goal isn’t to eliminate conflict. The goal is to deal with conflict in an beneficial way.
  • The single biggest obstacle to getting what we need in an negotiation is within ourselves.
  • When angry you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
  • What’s key is to “go to the balcony,” step outside ourselves and remind ourselves of what’s most important, what we’re trying to achieve.
  • The greatest power we have in negotiation is not to react.
  • Skills needed to negotiate well
    • 1) Separate the people from the problem.
      •  The harder you need to be on the problem, the softer you need to be on the people.
      • “Softer” means listening, put ourselves in their shoes, showing respect
      • Negotiating is trying to change the game from face to face confrontation to working together
    • 2) Focus on interests, not positions
      • Probe behind the position to find the underlying interest. Why? What are your needs?
    • 3) Developing multiple options
      • Develop creative options that meet the interest of all sides.
    • 4) Insist that the result be based on some objective standard
      • Problems occur when issue becomes a matter of will and ego
      • Find agreement by striving for fairness
  • batna – best alternative to a negotiated agreement
    • Think through what your options are if you don’t reach an agreement.
  • Some conflicts can only be solved by a story.
  • Talked about using Abraham’s story as common foundation for finding peace in the Middle East. AbrahamPath.org
  • Traveler there is no path. The path is made by walking.
  • The best way to destroy an enemy is to make them a friend. -Abraham Lincoln

What impacted you from the interview with William?  What action will you take as a result?



  1. What Fills You Up? | Awake my Soul - September 13, 2012

    […]   When angry you will make the best speech you will ever regret. -Bill Ury (Makes me think of one of my life verses “Where words are many, sin is not absent.” […]

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