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Small Business Digest


The Power of No

The best word in the English language has to be “yes.”  In negotiations, however, “yes” is the worst word.  It primes a person to please the other side, to rush ahead, to compromise early and often, to come to a deal – any deal.  In negotiation, the best word to say – and to invite the other side to say – is “no.”

That’s the idea behind NO: The Only Negotiating Strategy You Need for Work and Home (Crown, 2007) by Jim Camp.  Camp has boiled down his negotiation model into easy-to-understand steps that can be learned and practiced.

Each chapter includes “test drives” – short exercises that help to apply a concept or practice a principle; a “3-minute checklist” to review what has been covered; and real-life examples that illustrate how the system works in a variety of situations.

The book covers:

*How to control emotions that sabotage success
*Worst negotiating habits and how to break them
*Questioning and listening skills that give a person an edge
*How to quickly recover the advantage is a person makes a mistake
*How to know when to give up and walk away
*Two tools – the Check List and Log – that help manage every negotiation

Camp has also offered ways a person can get what they want in, which include:

1.  Start with no.  Resist the urge to compromise.  Instead, invite the other person to say "no" to a proposal.  (Hint: Don't tell him or her what it is -- at least not yet.)  The person should be clear that, personally, he doesn’t take no as rejection, but as a candid start to an honest discussion.

2.  Dwell not.  If people dwell on what they want, they will blow their advantage.  Throughout the discussion, people should focus instead on what they can control -- their actions and behaviors.

3.  Do some homework.  People should learn everything they can before they begin.  This way, they prevent a minefield of surprises, whether dealing with the boss, a car dealer, or a teenager.

4.  Face problems head-on.  People should identify the "baggage" -- both their own and the other side’s -- and bring these issues out into the open.  Facing, not avoiding, problems gives people an edge.

5.  Check emotions at the door.  Exercise self-control, and let go of any expectations, fears, or judgments.  (And, whatever people do, they shouldn’t be needy.)  Sure, this is easier said than done, but it gives a person an edge.

6.  Get them talking.  Ask open-ended questions that begin with what and how.  Find out what the other person wants and needs, and then show him or her how the proposal actually benefits them.

7.  Build a vision.  People should create a story that presents their proposal as a solution.  In helping the other person see exactly what he or she will gain from the plan, the person will spark decision-making and action.

Camp admits that his system requires practice to master.  He offers a companion website with diagnostic tests, training tools, and resources for those who seek further development.  Visit that site at for more information.

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