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Say ‘No’ In Negotiations

This post was going to be about the simplicity of asking for something but I got all revved up today about a topic that I hold very near and dear to my heart. So, I’m going to write about that topic instead. Strike while the iron is hot as they say. Anyway, I’m getting off topic. Here’s my rant: LEARN TO SAY “NO”! Negotiators don’t say ‘no’ enough. Why do so many of us feel the need to capitulate to the demands of others in a negotiation so easily? Why not just say ‘no’.

Really, it’s not that hard!

  • No, you may not have a discount.
  • No, we do not provide it that way.
  • No, I cannot give you early payment terms.
  • No!!!


Is it that we fear insulting or offending the other person? Canadians are terrible with ‘no’. For whatever reason we just can’t seem to say it well. And when we do say it, it comes out so fearfully and with such guilt that you’d swear we were admitting to the abduction of someone’s first born child. It comes out like this:

  • “Well, you see…”
  • “I don’t know if ….”
  • “I was kind thinking….”
  • “Would it be alright if we….”

See how awkward that sounds? Doesn’t it just make you feel weird? (not weird in a good way either – maybe that’s just me)

It’s okay to say ‘no’. Really. It is.

I cannot handle being in a negotiation where someone constantly agrees to my demands and bends (and sometimes breaks) their backs all the time to give me what I want. It drives me insane. It shows weakness and I end up losing all respect for the person I’m negotiating with. And if I get to that point I drive until I hit rock bottom in pricing and terms. I go as low as absolutely possible just to try to get to ‘no’. I know it’s a jerk move, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.

So why is there this culture of ‘yes’ in negotiations that so many people feel like they need to live within? So many of us are so afraid of losing the deal or not making the deal work that we’re afraid to challenge the other party and say ‘no’. We’re so afraid of insulting or offending. We’re so afraid of rejection, that we say ‘yes’ just to avoid the thought of it. And so we give away the farm. Not only do we give it away, but we gift wrap it and deliver it. Look, I get it, rejection sucks! But saying ‘yes’ to everything is not helping you!

Stop saying ‘yes’ to everything!

If someone says ‘yes’ to everything, I know that I’m going to have problem later on, because I know they’ve likely over-committed. Saying ‘no’ shows that you have limits, it shows that you have courage, and it shows that you are disciplined.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re saying ‘yes’ all the time, you’re not negotiating, you’re taking an order. Are you an order taker, or are you a negotiator?

Say ‘no’ in your negotiations more often.