Some folks would say that successful negotiations involve “getting to YES.” I disagree, because too many people say “yes” but don’t really mean it. We’ve all encountered that dinner time telemarketer that says “You want to stop the suffering of abused children, don’t you?” Yes. Of course I do. But, my “yes” doesn’t mean I’m going to open my wallet. I’m saying “yes” to get them off the phone.
A better strategy is to get people saying “no” early, because “no” is a far more comfortable word. An entire book has been written about the nuances of yes vs. no, (and its a great book), called “Never Split the Difference,” by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz. Their book explains negotiating techniques that request ‘no’ responses, rather than ‘yes’ responses. Negotiation techniques can play into every aspect of life (obvious, I know, you’re really learning something today). One example found in the book involves fundraising, and how the standard phone scripts for these campaigns can raise more money–depending upon whether the scripts are rigged for ‘yes’ responses versus ‘no’ responses. Yes, these telemarketers are just reading stuff from their computer screen, written by so-called negotiation experts. Studies have shown, believe it or not, that scripts which prompt a ‘no’ response yield far greater donations. An example from the book goes something like this:
“Fund-Raiser: Do you think we need change a change in the White House this November?” Response: “Yes, I do.” “Fund-Raiser: Can you give me your credit card number so you can be part of that change?” (example of a “yes” based script)
“Fund-Raiser: Are you going to sit and watch them take the White House in November?” Response: “No, I’m not.” “Fund-Raiser: If you want to do something today to make sure that doesn’t happen, can you give to our committee to fight for you?” (example of a “no” based script)
As a side note, and barely related to the “Yes & No” mentioned above, I should tell you about how Derek Sivers feels about saying “Yes” to anything. (Isn’t this our second side note? When are we going to read about driving on a suspended license?) Derek recommends never saying yes to anything. Never. If you’re going to say yes, it had better be a “HELL YES!!”. The original version of this decision making model involves a more vulgar F-word–but the point is–you should be saying “No” most of the time, unless you’re really enthused. I find this advice great for a guy like me, whose done criminal defense for 24 years (oh, my web people love these types of sentences). But, when I was just starting my career, I said “yes” to many things, just to get my feet wet. Now that I’m a bit older, I admit that there’s a certain power to saying “no”. Fortunately, I am in a position to say “no” frequently. Anyway. Continue Reading