Don't fight 'no,' but don't give up, either
Dr. Cindy McGovern
I once worked with someone who couldn’t handle the answer, “no.” It was a lot like dealing with a child. One day I literally saw her stomp, raise her voice and throw a book! She then spent the rest of the day trying “rallying the troops” and trying to get other employees on her side – just to hear someone say she was right and should have gotten what she wanted. At one point, she went so far as to file a grievance against her boss. Hearing "no" was not in her skillset and really hurt her in the long run.
Hearing "no" is not the worst thing in the world, in fact it can be a good thing! What might feel like rejection could actually be the opening of a door. It’s all about how you perceive the situation. If you take a moment to view the opportunities, there may be great things in the mix.
Here’s some reality: You aren’t entitled to everything you want, but you can negotiate a “no” with just about everything. From your next promotion or raise to a deal with a client or agreement with a vendor – it’s all negotiable. And that means that getting a “no” really just means “not now.”
How do you negotiate through a no? Here are three critical pieces:
1. Change your mind set about win-lose situations. The art of interest-based negotiating is realizing you and the other person both want the same thing: a good deal. So, find the win-win! How? Talk! Continue the conversation until you both discover a mutually beneficial solution.
2. Come to the table prepared. You wouldn’t take a test completely unprepared, so why would you begin negotiations without a plan? Do your research. Careful research also shows the other person how seriously you take them and respect their time – which is already a win-win!
3. Rehearse. There’s a reason I include roleplaying when I’m coaching clients – it works! Break out of your comfort zone and practice in front of the mirror, with a friend, with a colleague – or even better yet, find a mentor and practice. Write a script if it helps!
To reframe a "no," realize you have a big opportunity to learn something, understand why it's a "no" and explore it. Ask why! Be respectful and professional and most people will share their rational.
Remember, one “no” doesn’t mean “no” to all future requests. If all you want from someone is a one-time deal, that’s all you’ll get. If you want an ongoing relationship, build on that initial “no” and find ways to help each other out on an ongoing basis. You’ll start hearing a lot more yeses!
Cindy McGovern consults internationally on sales, interpersonal communication and leadership. She is the author of “Every Job is a Sales Job: How to Use the Art of Selling to Win at Work.”
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