Stop people saying “No” to you

13th May 2014

What have all these questions got in common?

  • Children, do any of you want to tidy your bedrooms?
  • Would you like to buy this new computer system from me?
  • So team, that’s this year’s plan. Are you all happy to share it with your teams?
  • Will you invest in my product/project/idea?

The answer? They’ll all trigger a response of “yes” or “no”. This makes it easy for the other person to say “no” to you. Depressingly often, they do.

The solution is more straightforward that you’d expect…

Don’t ask yes/no questions

Instead, offer options. If you like, this turns your yes/no question into a yes/yes:

  • Children, when do you want to tidy your bedrooms today?
  • We have two computers that would deliver the outcomes you want – A or B. Which would you prefer?
  • So team, that’s this year’s plan. There are a couple of ways we could proceed. Either I could email it to everyone directly; or you could share it with your teams in your weekly meetings. How would you suggest we do this?
  • So that’s my product/project/idea. What would you suggest we do next? Implement it all? Run a pilot first? Something else?

Of course, people can still say “no”. But they’re less likely to. After all, instead of asking “shall we proceed?”, it’s now “how shall we proceed?”

And now I have one more question for you: how can I help you more than I do? Obviously, I’m delighted you like Tuesday Tips. But how else can I help? For example, how about:

  • My monthly video programme: Every month, I record about an hour’s worth of videos, sharing simple ways to communicate better. The first month shows three steps to winning more business. You can find out how here
  • New webpage: Every week or so, I put some new ideas, links to great advice, my favourite business books etc on our website.  Have a look here
  • Twitter: I tweet things most days: @andy_bounds

There aren’t many techniques that will both persuade colleagues to accept your proposal and also convince your children to tidy their bedrooms. But offering options is one.

When are you going to use it first?

Action point

There are lots of options (of course!) this week. Which will you do first?

Want somebody to say ‘yes’ to something today? Use options to give them a choice of yeses

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