“No” Is the Magic Word

Happy Thursday!

I’ve been running around Europe lately with the family.

But there’s one skill that I’m so pleased I’ve developed. And that’s negotiation skills.

Because even in Europe, people try to take advantage of you.

So enjoy this piece and, by God, read Jim Camp’s books!

Develop This Skill at All Costs

There are many different skills that any person — especially a businessperson — must develop. Presentation, writing, and networking skills, among others, are crucial to developing both the self and the business.

Imagine your prospective customer, and you are discussing a potential business deal.

You’re able to navigate the conversation without any theatrics effortlessly. The dialogue feels like a sharp, rewarding tennis rally. It goes back and forth between the two of you for a time.

Then, the conversation concludes with a deal.

This deal gets you paid… and gets the client everything they want. You both benefit and realize a vastly increased scope of your agreement.

Moreover, there’s even more potential to expand your business dealings.

Dreamworld scenario? Sometimes, sure.

But more often than not, this results from a conversation where you display excellent negotiation skills.

What They Really Mean by “Don’t Give Up!”

Roger Fisher and William Ury penned a “classic” text on negotiation skills called Getting to Yes.

Reading this book is the surest way to have your head handed to you in a negotiation.

I never understood the psychological mumbo-jumbo that getting someone to say yes to something would get them to say yes to everything. It’s garbage.

Worrying about ZOPAs (Zone of Potential Agreement) and BATNAs (Best Alternative To No Agreement) differs from where your head should be when talking to someone.

The truth is that people often say, “No.” All the time, really.

How you deal with that is far more important than getting someone to say a “yes” they may not even mean.

Are you going to give up after the first “No?”

Many do, especially the Ivy League/Oxbridge types, who are positively insulted when someone declines their “perfect deal.” Don’t they know who they’re talking to?

Using a “no” as a signpost or a boundary is critical when speaking to customers. You’ll hear them often. You may as well use them as guiding lights to get a solid deal done.

Who’s the Best to Listen to?

I’m a big Ben Settle fan. Right now, Ben is perhaps the most renowned email marketer on the planet.

One day, Ben talked about one of his heroes, Jim Camp.

My ears immediately pricked up.

What Ben relayed about Jim immediately resonated with me. This man not only trained FBI negotiators but seemed no-nonsense about it all.

Suddenly, negotiation wasn’t an exercise in psychology or hypnosis but a method of finding common ground.

Camp defines negotiation as “the effort to bring about an agreement between two or more parties, with all parties having the right to veto.”

What happens when you give someone the breathing room to say no is impressive. It completely contrasts the “take it or leave it” boneheads bandying their “method” about.

To be sure, at the end of a negotiation, you need to know whether you’re getting married. But that’s much farther down the road.

Whenever I submit a proposal, I write in the email’s conclusion, “Please let me know if you’d like to add/delete/amend anything.”

That sentence gives my client the guilt-free wiggle room they need to alter things they don’t like.

Keep your ego out of it. Shipping business and stacking paper are what matters. Not bullet points on a proposal.

Let the market tell you what it wants. It’s easier that way!

The Adult’s Magic Word

“Micah, what’s the magic word?”

“May I have some chocolate, puhleese?”

Every child is ingrained with that lesson. “Please” is the magic word. And always say “thank you.”

They’re great lessons every child must learn to function in polite and impolite society.

Although I’m enjoying my four-year-old immensely, I can’t wait to say, “Micah, you know how I always told you the magic word was ‘please?’ Well, here’s your new lesson. You’re at the age where the new magic word is ‘No!’”

I don’t know about you, but I used to be one of those dopes who used to say yes to everything. I like making people happy, so I must remind myself of the magic word.

No, thank you. No, that’s not for me. No, I think you should find someone better suited for that job. No, that price doesn’t work for me.

Practice if you must. You won’t believe the results you’ll start getting. And what’s better, you’ll have cleared the way to say an enthusiastic “Yes!” to the right projects and deals!

Camp gives three pieces of advice concerning “no”:

  • Embrace “no” at every opportunity in a negotiation.
  • Don’t fear the word — invite it. You do not take it as a personal rejection because you are not needy.
  • Every “no” is reversible.

Camp continues, “The moment you really internalize this principle, the moment you understand the honesty and the power of ‘no,’ you will have taken a long stride away from emotion-based negotiating toward decision-based negotiating.”

“Maybe” is the worst answer you can hear. It gives you nothing.

Wanna go out with me?


Not great, is it?

How about this:

Shall we do lunch?

Yes! Have your people call my people.

Is that a real “yes?” Maybe it’s something they said to shut you up. You won’t know until later.

That’s why “no” is the golden word. You know exactly where a boundary is.

There’s so much more to write about this topic, but let me touch on one more thing.

Want is OK, Need is Not

“You stink of fear!” Mr. Hyde screamed at Tom Sawyer in the 2003 film League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Your customers smell this a mile away, as well.

From now on, train yourself to want things from your clients. But from this point forward, you never need anything from them.

You don’t need this deal. You want this deal.

You don’t need to do this. You want to do this.

You don’t need to close. You want to close. Badly.

In fact, removing the word “need” from your vocabulary insofar as it’s reasonable to do so will do wonders for your body chemistry.

Need produces stress. Stress causes cortisol levels to rise. It constricts your breathing. It raises your heart rate. Worst of all, it clouds your judgment — all bad stuff.

Wants and desires don’t have that deleterious effect.

But what if my client rejects me?

They can’t reject you if you don’t need anything from them.

Wrap Up

I love Jim Camp’s books. Start with No: The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know, and No: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home are classics.

I prefer the audiobook versions. Listen to them 10x each to ingrain the message.

It may be a big change for you, but it’s worth it.

Have a wonderful rest of your week!

The Daily Reckoning