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“No” is Where Real Conversations Often Start

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Whether it be in sales, at the office, or even on a date, often times, we’d rather lie and say, “yes” to keep the peace than say what we’re really thinking, which usually hovers around, “wtf…hell-no!”  And, this is just it, on the other side of the table where we in sales sit, we bend over backwards to get them to agree. Get them to see our point. We sell them on why whatever your pitching is so great. Just get them to that all holy “yes,” and everything will fall into place. Ego spared. You’re a star. Whatever the situation, you’ve now moved on to prepping contracts, counting your commissions, or picking that perfect restaurant for the next date, right?

Not so fast.

I can promise you this, that half-ass “yes” you just got (or gave) is going to create a lot of work, wasted time, and could be another lost opportunity. All too often, a flimsy “yes” becomes a ghosted “no,” and that deal dies a slow and silent death. We all know too well that in business and in life, silence is lethal. So, what’s my point? Don’t be afraid of hearing “no.” That dreaded two letter word is very often where real conversations begin and is your chance to dig into the why that lies behind that “no.” It’s where real communication starts, clarity is found, problems are uncovered, partnerships can begin to take form, and true negotiations can start. Or, in the worst-case scenario, you get to find why that second date was never going to happen after all the, “yeah, had a great time…” text messages.

So, embrace those, “Nopes.” “Sorry.” “Not Interested” “No Thanks” “Not Now.” All those are gold.

Look back at all the times you’ve maybe said slipped into agreement when you really had no intention of ever buying a service, product or even making future plans with that person. And, don’t get me wrong, there are a few some very straight talkers out there, but we’ve been conditioned in the art of the non-comital and flaccid “yes.” Why? Because it’s sometimes easier to agree to get them off the phone, get out of a meeting or get the hell out of that bar and away from that freak. The no-way-in-hell, a.k.a, “Yeah for sure!” has been so woven into the fabric of our daily lives and become so deeply ingrained in business that it even spawned a best-selling book, Getting to Yes, in 1981 by a group of Harvard negotiation experts. If you’re read it, it’s a good read, but a whole helluva a lot has changed since the ’80s when that was written.

We’re now swimming in new information, new products, new companies and new potential suitors, all at a swipe away. So, the idea of getting someone to agree with you at all cost is, at best, short-sighted and lazy, or worse, willfully ignorant in our new reality of information overload.

So then, why is having someone tell you, “no” better than getting them to, “yes”? Because disagreement means they’ve listened engaged with you or your idea and formed an opinion. For you to get to this point is a near miracle in our ADD world and that thoughtful, “no” is your opening to get to the truth, if handled correctly.

These disagreement starts conversations. It lets you dig deeper. It invites you to ask why. It gives you the chance to find out what really is turning them off and can give you all the information you need to re-orient yourself, your solutions and solve their problems. You can clarify a misunderstanding gain even more information and engagement on how you may be able to eventually get them to a firm and wholehearted,  “yes.”

Or, if you do the digging and, “no” really means it’s not a good deal, product or a potential partner, that conclusion gives you invaluable information on what you need to focus on, fix, adjust, plan and change so the next time around, you’ll be more prepared. Armed with new information for the next meeting, negotiation or even that next Tinder date with a new level of awareness on what the person across the table really needs to hear from you and/or your company to get you closer to that handshake, next step, signature or next date –that is, if they really are as captivating as their Tinder profile.

So, whatever you’re focused on, try not shooting for the, “yes” at all cost but, instead; listen, stay quiet and ask more questions and listen some more. Don’t settle for false agreements and get them to say, “no.” if you sense a bullshit, “yes.”  Because that two-letter word can be the key to crafting a better deal, creating a better partnership, or walking away when it really isn’t a good fit.

And, between you and me, let’s stop saying, “yeah, sounds great” when we really mean, “nah, probably not.” It’ll help us all in the end.