Negotiation 101 – ’No’ Is A Two Letter Word With Multiple Meanings

Great negotiators, sales people, coaches, consultants and entrepreneurs understand that the word ‘no’ is not the opposite of the word ‘yes’. People say ‘no’ for multiple reasons and they mean a variety of things depending on the situational context. When you get a ’no’, or when you do not get a ’yes’ it may mean any of the options listed below. In parentheses are suggestions about how you could frame your response action accordingly:

  1. Not now (Find out what would be a good time)
  2. I am not ready to say yes (What holds you back? What will help you feel ready?)
  3. I want to hear more (What specifically do you need to understand? Who else needs to be involved?)
  4. I need to first know that you understand my concerns (I am here, listening. Help me understand.)
  5. What will I gain? What’s in it for me? (What are your hopes? What’s most important for you? What will simplify your life the most?)
  6. I need to learn more about your process, help me see how we can get there (Canvass it through the other person eyes: the first step will be… this is what we will do… this is what it will look like… feel like…the results you can expect are…)
  7. First I need to know if I can trust you (Build trusting relationship)
  8. What guarantees do I have? (What guarantees do you need?)
  9. I am under personal pressure and am not in a position to reply now. (That’s why we have to do this… or approach it at another time)
  10. How will it impact what we do? What will be the consequences of this? (What are the impacts you hope for? What are the consequences you are concerned about?)

© Aviv Shahar

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