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The Power of No

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

Let me ask you a question, and you have to be honest with yourself. How many people like the word no?

My guess is most of you do not like that word. That’s because we are thinking about when someone says the word to us. No, you can’t do that. No, you can’t buy that system. No, you can’t go there.

But in reality, no is one of the most powerful words we have in our arsenal. When you change your perspective, saying no gives you all kinds of power. When you use the word no, it gives you control over your actions because now you have boundaries. You know what you can and cannot do.

I know people are afraid of the word because it makes us feel guilty when we use it. We feel bad because we think we are letting the other party down. So, instead of saying no, we use yes as an escape route. If we just say yes, then we can figure out how to say no later, or if we’re lucky the situation will just go away.

In his book Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss says there are three types of yeses we need to understand:

1. The Counterfeit — a lie, an escape route, a way to buy time and space. This probably is the worst type of yes because it leads people on and ends up wasting both party’s time. It’s the yes we give when we should have just said no.

2. The Confirmation — a reflexive response that evaporates when it’s time for details. Similar to the counterfeit yes, but it is saying you are still open for more information.

3. The Commitment — the real deal that holds firmer than a handshake. This is the firm yes. That you are in agreement, and we can move forward to the next step.

We hate to use the word no. But when you think about it, no can be a liberating word! It cuts away the unnecessary and lets us focus on what is truly possible. That is where good stuff lies.

Next time you are afraid to say no, remember you are not helping the situation by giving a counterfeit yes. There’s no reason to give someone you are working with false hope. When you say no, you are truly helping both parties get to the Next Opportunity.

Until next time…I’m Marty, make every minute count.


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