The word ‘no’ is one of the most common and feared words in the English language. What isn’t common is the knowledge on how to use it properly in business; saying ‘no’ the right way.
The truth about saying ‘no’ is that the higher you get in business, the more often you’ll have to use it.
So how can you use it in a firm but non-aggressive manner? The below eight tips should help:
- Take out the sting. There are many ways of saying ‘no’ without actually using the two letter word. A “not at this point”, or “let’s revisit this in the future” are less abrupt options.
- Say no first. You’ve been asked to attend a meeting for a client you’re not completely sure about. Rather than saying ‘yes’ and later cancelling, say ‘no’ with the possibility of retracting it later.
- Don’t feel guilty. Do you think Richard Branson has a moment to reflect on the hundreds of nos he gives every day? This is business – it is a yes and no game.
- Back yourself. Requests can range from semi-reasonable to outright outlandish. Remember that this person is asking something of you, and make your decision with confidence.
- Be brief. There is a fine line between being sensitive, and leaving yourself wide open for debate. Thank them for the request, but keep the reasoning behind your choice limited.
- Reject the request, not the person. Be appreciative that they want to do business with you and make it clear that it’s the idea that won’t work. Don’t close any doors by causing offence.
- Ignore FOMO. That is, Fear Of Missing Out. We are inclined, especially in the early days, to say yes to everything. As I often say “For every no, there is a yes around the corner”.
- Stand your ground. At some point you’ll encounter someone who will be very headstrong, and poke holes in your refusal. Remember you’re better at saying no than they are at being pushy.
In business you need to make decisions in a split second, AND communicate them in a way that is effective and reassuring to the other party.
Do you struggle with the word ‘no’? Or have some of your own strategies for comfortably using the word? Leave your thoughts below.