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Listen: The Hidden Power of No In a Negotiation

To share her thoughts on the book "Never Split The Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss, Mind & Metrics CEO Lica Wouters appeared on the Company Growth Podcast, one of Canada’s top 25 business podcasts. Voss asserts that we shouldn’t be averse to hearing “No” in a negotiation; in fact, that word can actually spell opportunity. 

Lica explained how asking no-oriented questions has helped her help her clients:

“[By leaning into no] I'm undoing the knot of problems that they have [...] You don't want to bulldoze in and say, I'm gonna fix it for you. Most business owners want to learn how to fix it for themselves.”

In almost every aspect of our lives, we’re aiming to hear “Yes”. We ask “yes-oriented” questions like, “Can we move forward with this?”, “Can we agree to do it this way?”. All day, we’re trying to hear yes from others, and are expected to say yes ourselves. Conversely, “No” is a death knell - the ultimate threat to your bottom line, the end-all-be-all. But it doesn’t have to be. 

Decision-making fatigue is a real issue, and “Yes” is a committal answer that may be difficult for people to settle on. “No”, on the other hand, is an opportunity to drill down deeper and really understand what is preventing a prospect from making a purchase, and figure out how to eliminate friction.

Don't be afraid to hear "no"

Yes-oriented questions can make a person feel trapped and pressured. This often leads to either:

  • The prospect is scared away and says no permanently
  • The prospect says yes because you wore them down, but this commitment proves to be shaky down the line

By giving your prospect room to say no, you avoid the psychological trap of “yes”. If you put the power to veto an idea into the hands of your prospect, they are emboldened to vocalize what they need. 

If you hear “no” in a discussion with a client or potential client, lean into it. Find out the reasons behind their answer. By finding and eliminating what they don’t want, you can get to what they really want and need.

Learn more about how to harness the power of “No” and listen to Lica’s words of wisdom by tuning into the podcast on YouTube. You can also find the episode on Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts!

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