The Power Of Letting Others Say “No”

Next time you need someone to make a decision, don’t get them to say “yes,” figure out how to make them say, “no.” 

It shows you respect their agency and allows them to feel in control of their decision. 

Chris Voss (former hostage negotiator, author of Never Split The Difference) was sitting first class on a flight next to a businessman. 

He knew he was important by the people walking past them, after they boarded, who kept saying, “Hi boss.” He also knew he was important because he was on the phone working on some type of a deal from before they boarded. 

In that way you can’t help but hear another person’s conversation sometimes, Voss was hearing the guy say, “so you agree?” over and over again to mixed results. Finally he taps the businessman on the shoulder and says, “Try to get them to say no.”

Voss explains he’d written a book on the subject, explains how it works and why, and says to just try it. The businessman listened, Voss saw something click, and a minute later the professional was back on the phone trying the technique out. 

Instead of “so, you agree?” he asked “do you disagree?”

And it worked. 

The grateful businessman turned to Voss, clearly impressed. 

“My name’s Trevor. You may know me by my stage name, Busta Rhymes.” 

What a story. And not just because it was Busta, because there’s real power in letting other people say “no” to you. Busta saw it in moments, just by tweaking a few 

When others can draw their own boundaries, and you can show them your respect for those boundaries, everyone feels better about moving forward. 

No. Fire it up. 

h/t Voss on Jocko Podcast for this story

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