The Positive Power of a Good ‘No’

The word ‘No’ gets a bad rap. Sure it has a negative connotation, arguably it’s the essence of negative, but there is a lot of power in a good ‘No’! The problem is that we’re innately wired to view ‘No’ as a problem – which means we don’t like saying it and we don’t like hearing it.

The reality is that you need to embrace ‘No’ if you want to be successful. If you want to get more done, get better deals done, or scale your business, ‘No’ is a critical tool for making that happen.

Let’s look at 3 ways you should be actively using ‘No’ as a way to move forward faster:

Increase your Productivity by saying ‘No’ more often

When we think about productivity, we often think about time management. The problem is that you can’t actually manage time. We all have the same 24 hours and it’s going to continue to pass regardless of how we feel about it.

What we can manage is how we use that time. The key is to identify those tasks that are really going to make an impact and focus on those.

And say ‘No’ to the rest of them…

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘No’ to almost everything.”

– Warren Buffett

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not easy to say ‘no’. If you’re doing well and have interesting, worthwhile things going on, you need to be saying ‘no’ to good ideas and good projects. Because that’s the only way you’ll have enough time to work on great ideas and great projects.

Action – Look at your calendar for the last month or two. What are you spending time on that you should have said ‘no’ to? How much more could you be getting done if those things were off your to-do list? What could you say ‘no’ to next week?

Scale your business by saying ‘No’…

Entrepreneurs and business owners are famous for saying ‘yes’ – often times to their detriment. Imagine a situation where a customer (or a potential customer) asks if you can help them with something. Almost every entrepreneur will say ‘Yes’ immediately and then try to figure out how to do it afterwards.

And while that entrepreneurial, can-do approach has a lot of value, especially early on in a business, at some point it becomes a detriment and will keep you from scaling your business.

The best recipe for scaling a business is to find something that’s valuable to your customers, figure out how to deliver it quickly and cost effectively… and then find a way to do that at a 10X scale (rinse and repeat on the last 2 steps until the market changes).

Saying ‘Yes’ early on may help you identify your best service / product / etc. that customers find valuable. But at some point you must start saying ‘No’ so that you can focus on doing that one thing really well (faster, cheaper, more automated, etc.).

Action – What are your bottom 2 or 3 products or services that you do for customers? The ones that are challenging, or cause the most problems, or make the least amount of profit? What if you stopped offering those and instead focused that time and effort on doing more of your best products or services? It’s a big leap to say ‘No’ to a customer, but it will have a huge impact on the success of your business.

Negotiations start with ‘No’

Jim Camp is the author of the book ‘Start with No’ and is a recognized and highly successful negotiations coach who’s worked with companies all over the world to help them win more negotiations.

As the title suggests, Jim’s approach recommends embracing ‘No’ when it comes to negotiations. It’s only when the other side understands that you are willing to walk away that they will actually choose to work with you on something other than their preferred terms. Saying ‘No’ is the clearest, fastest way to let them know that you don’t need them.

You might be thinking ‘if I say ‘no’, then there’s a good chance that the deal never happens at all’. Which is absolutely true – but you have to realize and appreciate that no deal is always better than a bad deal. Saying ‘No’ helps you avoid bad deals and paves the way for a good deal.

Action – next time your negotiating on something find a way to say ‘No’ early on and see if that doesn’t help open up the discussion.

What do you think? Could you benefit from saying ‘no’ more often? We’d love to hear your thoughts – leave a comment below (or choose not to, that’s okay as well). 😉

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach