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The Power of Saying “No” in a Positive Way

Every day as business owners, fathers, mothers, friends we run into situations where we have to say “No”. We deal with a constant barrage of requests from employees, co-workers, our spouse, our kids and more. But, there is a huge difference in how we say “No”. Are we saying it to shut the other person down? To get them to leave us alone? To get them to hopefully not ask us again? Are we being abrupt with the other person? Are we really hearing what they’re asking?

I want to talk to you about a book I recently reviewed called The Power of a Positive No by William Ury. In it he postulates that to say “No” from the right place we have to start with a “Yes” to our core needs….followed by a “No” to an unwanted request…..and end with another “Yes” that seeks constructive solutions.

It goes something like this: “I am saying “No” to your request because of X, Y and Z and how they affect me, our business, etc. However, let’s talk about this some more, because maybe there is an alternative way to get to what you are seeking.”

So, how to put this into action:

1. Know what you are saying “Yes” to. Say “Yes” to the things that feed your physical health, mental health, the health of your business and the health of your family. What other things might you want to say “Yes” to?

2. Learn how to say “No”. It has to be done honestly, sincerely and confidently. It has to be done in a clear, firm way, so the other person doesn’t try to argue us to “Yes”. But…. It also has to be done in a way that treats the other person with the respect and dignity to accept our refusal positively….. which leads us to the next step.

3. Open the door to a new “Yes” for the other person. This is a negotiation. You are leading the other person to a “Yes” that aligns with the “Yes” of your core needs.

Here’s an examples:

An employee asks you for a pay raise. You respond by saying, “I’m sorry, I really wish I could pay you more, but unfortunately our business isn’t profitable enough for that right now. So, I have to say “No”. However, having said that, I really value you as an employee and want you to enjoy your time here. Would having five more days of paid vacation be valuable? I’d be glad to fill in for you.”

I’m sure you can think of many more examples. As always, best wishes and go make great things happen in your life, business and family!


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