There’s an old sales trick that if you can get your prospect to answer “yes” to a series of basic questions, it follows that they’ll be more likely to eventually say “yes” to your service or product. So they ask questions like, “Do you want to save money? Would you like to take 10 years off your appearance? Can you give me your credit card number?” Etc. Then they stick the pen in your hand, shove the contract across the table and you’re done for.
We prefer “yes” responses. It’s understandable. We don’t want to have to overcome objections, which can be stressful. Getting a negative response slows our progress and can lead to bad feelings. We prefer cooperation. We want people to accept our authority, move over to our side of the proverbial aisle and accept our position. We will go to great lengths to convince others to agree with us.
There are lots of negotiation books devoted to this approach. One of the most popular being Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce Patton. The understanding being if you give in, you’ve lost and the other party wins.
Then there are those who say “yes” but don’t really mean it. They just want you to quit bugging them and go away. That win is worthless. They won’t follow through on their half-hearted agreement, will ignore your phone calls and avoid you in the future.
Then there’s the ever-popular strategy of going for “win-win” where both sides end up getting some of what they want. The goal is a mutually beneficial outcome. This approach has become very popular in business-speak.
Why Go for No is Better
But here’s another concept which can get you better results — go for “no.”
In Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss, he explains that purposely seeking a “no” response gives you better information; now you know what the other person will not accept. From there you can explore what you both really want. “No” is not the end of the conversation; it’s a better beginning.
Ask questions that encourage a “no” response:
- Do you want to embarrass the family/organization?
- You wouldn’t want to lose out on 50% savings, would you?
- Have you given up on this project/person?
- Do you want to be responsible for fourth quarter losses?
- You don’t want to be the only person left behind, do you?
Voss says, “Politely saying ‘No’ to your opponent, calmly hearing ‘No’ and just letting the other side know that they are welcome to say ‘No’ has a positive impact on any negotiation. In fact, your invitation for the other side to say ‘No’ has an amazing power to bring down barriers and allow for beneficial communication.”
Basically, it makes the other party feel as though they have some control. And isn’t a sense of control what we all want?
Get the book or search on “Chris Voss Black Swan Group” for videos explaining his negotiation strategies.
My daughter works for Home Depot. When she was sick, the company sent her their “OrangeLifeCare Kit” with a can of chicken noodle soup, a soup cup, pulse oximeter and blanket. They also included a card listing helpful resources — a phone number to a clinician and another for unlimited free counseling. It was a very nice way to let employees know you’re thinking of them while they’re out of work.
“Don’t judge me by my past. I don’t live there anymore.” —Petteri Tarkkonen
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
“A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” —Robert Benchley
“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.” —Rodney Dangerfield
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss. A former FBI top hostage negotiator’s field-tested tools for talking anyone into (or out of) just about anything.
Start with No: The Negotiating Tools That the Pros Don’t Want You to Know by Jim Camp. Think a win-win solution is the best way to make the deal? Think again.
About Time: a 2013 British romantic comedy/drama. When the main character is told by his father that the men in their family can travel through time, he wins a girlfriend, but finds his ability can’t shield him and those he loves from the problems of ordinary life. I loved the performance by Bill Nighy as the father. Very touching, humorous movie with a few brief romantic scenes and artwork you may not want the kids to see.