As someone who sees 100’s of investment opportunities per month, I need to say No, understand exactly what it means and communicate it effectively.
I believe this word is the single most powerful word if used correctly. It’s a simple two-letter word that will get you where you want to be if you use it correctly and it’s not used enough.
Why can't you say it? It’s just a two-letter word… What are you afraid of?
That’s it. You’ve said it…
Now you’re in trouble. Maybe you’re not?
So why is No the most valuable word in business? Let’s understand the exact definition: “a negative answer or decision, especially in voting.” — Ignore “negative”, read between the lines and you’ll understand the power of this two-letter monster. The keyword I picked up was “decision” and this suggests independence. Independence gains respect and respect is one of the keys to being successful in business.
We teach our children not to say it but we should be teaching them how to use it. It is a tool to be used to open up a new conversation, the opposite “Yes” should be used we you have agreed that the outcome is favourable to you but only then should it be used.
Have you ever heard of a billionaire Yes man? Neither have I.
Jeff Bezos most likely says No 1000x a day but not because he is being rude. He is making a decision not just based on the outcome but on the value of the outcome.
Example 1: If he is asked, “Hey Jeff, you wanna go to a movie tonight?” He’s the answer would be “No, I am busy with a board meeting.” End of conversation.
His time is valuable so he made a quick mental decision of what his time is worth, a movie or a board meeting? He chose wisely, not because the movie was a bad idea its because the meeting was more valuable.
What about negotiation?
Let’s make do another example focused on negotiation: Lionel Messi, a football player wants to sign a new deal at Barcelona.
Example 2: Barcelona offers him a contract in which Messi is taking a 50% pay cut. Barcelona director of football says “Do you accept the terms of this offer Mr Messi?” where Messi answers “No, I don't not!”. This has now opened the door to negotiation which is a fundamental element of any business. Imagine if Messi would have said Yes. He would never have learnt the true value that Barcelona we’re willing to pay, missing out on the bigger opportunity at hand.
What about high-pressure situations?
Here’s a final example high-pressure situation, Fedor Holz is playing online poker with a bunch of other professional players.
Example 3: He looks at his cards and sees 7 hearts/2 spades. He folds immediately and says to himself “No, I am not playing that hand”. In this simple scenario, Fedor made an analysis that told him this hand is not worth financial risk. If Fedor would have said Yes then he would have been in a position that forced him to waste money on a weak hand. This example doesn’t open negotiation it explains patience and saying No to wait for the right opportunity to say Yes.
Too many of us, including myself, have used “Yes” a lot more than we’ve used “No” simply because we are scared of ruining opportunities and I can tell you that’s bullshit. Saying the word No can unlock a lot for you if you use it effectively and know when/where to pull the trigger. If you use it carelessly it can be just as destructive as it is powerful.
Open more conversations, don’t agree for the sake of it and put yourself in the most favourable situations.
Learn when to say Yes and when to say No!