Former British prime minister Tony Blair once said, “The art of leadership is not saying ‘Yes’. It is saying ‘No’.”
Saying “no” to a request, an offer, or invitation doesn’t have to negative. We just need to learn how to say “No” in the right way.
Warren Buffett told William Ury, author of “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In”, “I don’t understand all this Yes stuff. In my line of business, the most important word is ‘No’. I sit there all day and look at investment proposals and say, ‘No’, ‘No’, ‘No’—until I see exactly what I’m looking for. And then I say, ‘Yes.’”’
Even Ury himself said, “the main obstacle to getting to Yes is learning how to say ‘No’ properly.”
Why is it so difficult?
I think it’s because we perceive the word “No” as negative, limiting, and off-putting. So, we say “Yes” when we shouldn’t. We agree to terms that aren’t reasonable. We commit our time to things that aren’t worthwhile.
Then what happens? We grudgingly go through with what we agreed to do. We kick ourselves, and moan about “what I should have said.” So, let’s put an end to that pain.
Aim for a positive “No”. Rather than a blunt refusal, offer another possibility.
“I can certainly appreciate your needs here, and maybe we can find a different way to meet them that is more mutually agreeable.”
You’ve nicely said rejected the offer without ending the conversation.
“I’d like to do that for you, but right now, I can’t. Is there any flexibility in your timeline?”
You let the person know that you’re busy but still willing to help, if and when possible.
“I wish I could help, but I’m tied up; however, I might know someone who can.”
You provide an alternative, by saying “Yes” to helping, but on a different level—offering another resource.
The words “Yes” and “No” don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The successful way to deliver a positive “No” is by finding a way to blend the negative response with a positive one. “No, but…” or “Yes, but…” provide a sturdy bridge.
Someone once told me, “Every time you say ‘yes’ to someone else, you say ‘no’ to yourself.” Remind yourself of that. Respect the value of your time and hone the skill of delivering a positive “No”.
Myers Barnes is America’s favorite new home sales trainer, author, speaker and consultant. For more information, please visit www.myersbarnes.com.