If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been conditioned to believe that in business negotiations, the most important word you can get to is, “Yes”.
But what if the opposite is true?
According to the FBI’s former lead international terrorism negotiator Chris Voss, “Yes is a useless word.” and claims his goal in any negotiation is to get a “no” instead.
According to Voss, saying no makes people feel protected and safe and more willing to listen to your ideas and respects your counterpart’s autonomy and being asked to say “yes” too soon makes people defensive.
If (and hopefully when) you receive a “no” response, you can then say:
- What about this doesn’t work for you?
- What would you need to make this work?
- It seems there’s something here that bothers you.
This takes you immediately to a deeper level of conversation and more likely to get to an authentic “yes” in the long term.
Voss is such a strong believer in the power of a “no” response, that he advocates flipping even basic questions that might normally elicit a “yes” response on their head to get a “no” response to put your counterpart at ease.
Instead of “Does this work for you?” ask “Is this a bad idea?”. Change “Would you like to…?” to “Are you against?”.
Want more negotiation tips like this from Chris Voss? Check out his TEDx talk, his book (or get the audiobook for free on Audible).
If this tactic works on terrorists, odds are it can help you in your next personal or business negotiation, whether it’s social impact-related or not – give it a whirl!
Have a negotiating method to share? We’d love to know. Please drop us a line and let us know today!