What To Do With a “No”

What can you do with a “no”?

  • Move on to the next project.
  • Move on to the next deal.
  • Move on to the next research effort.
  • Find out if you made an error (so you don’t repeat it).
  • Find out if you were not communicating clearly (again, so you don’t repeat it).
  • Move on to the next day.
  • Move on to the next email.
  • Move on to the next phone call.
  • Move on to the next technology.
  • Move on to learn more about a market.
  • Be glad you’ve not wasted more time on a dead-end.
  • Find out why it was a “no” and see where that leads.
  • Move on to the next opportunity!

Most people dance around like “no” is a four-letter word they should avoid.  Customers don’t like to say it.  Many people don’t like to hear it.  Some people say they won’t take “no” for an answer (which can make them a real pest if they don’t handle it right).

“We’ll think about it and let you know”
often means, “No… but I can’t use that word because it might make me look bad for wasting your time and I would feel guilty.”

But you know what? Avoiding “no” can waste everyone’s time.

Give people permission to say “no” and it actually creates more freedom to discuss and may even lead to more “yes”es!  It is easy to do, just say something along the lines of, “If this doesn’t work for you, you can tell me ‘no’.  Okay?”  If they do say “no” you must also be sure you respect it.  Otherwise you lose credibility.

I want to be clear that this is not the sales hype I hear of “Every ‘no’ is one stop closer to a ‘yes.'”  While you can look at it that way, that is not my message.  I’m talking about about appropriate, respectful, and healthy communication.

I practice telling people a clear “no” if something does not work for me.  Not aggressive, just “no thanks” or “no that really is not for me.”   It saves me time and avoids the other person wasting time and effort as well.  Professionals will appreciate an honest “no.”   I hope you do too!

Glenn S. PhillipsGlenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself.  You can email Glenn directly at glennsphillips@nerdtoenglish.com.

Glenn is also the president of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.

© Copyright 2012. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.