Stop people saying ‘No’ to you

13th August 2013

People sure can find a lot of reasons to say ‘No’, can’t they?

“It’s too expensive… it’s not a priority… we’re choosing someone/something else… you’re not experienced enough… what if it doesn’t work… to be honest, I think we’ll just stay as we are…”

Sound familiar? But, although the list is long, it’s not as bad as first appears. In fact, there are only two types of ‘no’ that matter:

  1. Foreseeable
  2. Surprising

A foreseeable ‘no’ is one that you could, well, foresee. Either because:

  • They told you – “I’m worried about X”
  • You asked them – “Is there anything you’re worried about?”
  • You know from experience – “They’re bound to worry about the fact this is such a different approach to usual”

A surprising ‘no’ is one you couldn’t expect to happen – last-minute changes etc.

The majority, fortunately, are foreseeable. I mean, how many times can you be astounded when – yet again – someone says “budgets are tight”?

With these, it’s a question of preparing your response in advance, then proactively removing people’s concerns with:

  • Empathise – “One thing I’ve been thinking (and I guess you have too?) is that this approach is very different to what we normally do”
  • Remove – “But I’ve come to realise that [pre-prepared response]”
  • Confirm – “Does that feel sensible to you?”

(I should add here: it’s important you pre-empt their concerns, and raise them yourself. If you don’t, they’ll either raise them – this is worse than you doing it: you’re now on the defensive; or they won’t – this is a disaster: you haven’t removed their reason for saying ‘no’).

And when the reason for a ‘no’ is a surprise, you again use the Empathise/Remove/Confirm (ERC) approach: “I can see why you would say that… my answer is… is that ok?”

And of course, if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess/lie. Simply promise to get back to them straight away.

So, a simple summary:

  • Most objections are foreseeable – pre-prepare, practice, pre-empt with ERC
  • For the (few) surprisings – use ERC, but don’t guess/lie.

Let’s finish with a very real example…

(Empathy) If I was reading this Tip, I might think either (a) it sounds complicated and/or (b) I can’t see where I could use it.

(Remove) My answers to these are (a) it isn’t complex – look at the simple summary in italics above and (b) there are always opportunities to use this. In fact, I bet you’re communicating something today that someone could say ‘no’ to.

Action Point

(Confirm) So, I advise you to try this at least once today. It can’t do any harm. And it might do a whole lot of good. Sound like a plan?

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