It is not what you say but how you say it. The little word NO is a very powerful message to send. When used in a negotiation it is even more powerful. As often as not, it is not intended to be an absolute foreclosure of continued discussion about a subject. When the other person says no it may also be a solicitation for you to improve or alter your offer.
The many meanings of NO:
-No often means, simply, no. It is a firm, direct rejection of an offer. It is a clear indication that the other person does not want to do the deal. This closes off further discussion unless the offering party wants to revise their offer and negotiate against themselves.
-No can also be a bluff testing if the other person is willing to offer more to keep the negotiations going.
-No may also mean the other person would like to do the deal, but is unable to accept the specific terms offered.
Before accepting a rejection, make sure your offer was understood. ‘No’ can be the result of your proposal being misunderstood. If it was a fair offer and had merit, do not be afraid to clarify it to make sure it gets due consideration.
Listen to the delivery of a response, especially a negative one. How you are rejected provides an insight into the correct meaning of the rejection. When rejected and you sense another offer is expected, resist the urge to offer more. Respond by asking what the other person needs to change his mind. Do not negotiate against yourself without additional information. Seek clarification, suggestions or even, best yet, a counter to help you narrow the gap.
No is a powerful word. Use it judiciously. Deliver your rejection of an offer in a manner to telegraph your intent lest the other person not give up prematurely. If you know the negotiation is fruitless, make the rejection clear and direct. Then move on and don’t waste time offering false hope.
In Seven Secrets to WINNING Without Losing a Friend, I discuss how to say no and not to offend the other person.