No is a really powerful word in a negotiation. It is intended to end the discussion. We all remember our mothers saying no emphatically to stop our pleadings to stay up ‘just a little later’. She could do this because she had total control of the situation.
As an adolescent or adult few people have such absolute power over us. Here are a few tips on how to challenge limits set by others:
Think Like a Kid – Ask ‘Why?’ Look for hard facts supporting the limit. If there are none, keep pressing for an answer.
Seek Flexibility – Ask if there is anything that might change the person’s mind. You are not asking so much what might change their mind but trying to ascertain if the rejection is not as firm as it has been represented.
Uncover the Source – Ask who set the limit. If it is not the person with whom you are dealing perhaps you need to get to the real decision maker. Too often we waste time negotiating with someone who has no authority. You want to try to get as close to the decision maker as possible.
When All Else Fails – Ask why again!
Questions are not rude. They need not make you appear aggressive. They can be non-threatening if delivered in a conversational tone. You objective is to find a chink in the other person’s armor. To do that, you need them to talk with you.
In Seven Secrets to WINNING Without Losing a Friend, I discuss the importance of not accepting rejection on face value.