The Infamous NO – The Art and Dance of Asking For Something

Asking For Something

Yes or NO

Have you ever wondered how many times NO is used the first time someone asks for something; when YOU ask for something? There are several good reasons for this. By nature, we humans are lazy creatures. Sometimes we are just plain scared. We do all we can to minimize the amount of work we have to do. Sometimes, that means saying NO to requests made of us, even before we fully know the nature and background of the request. You could be asking for a physical item, a request for your employer to pay for a course, a store purchase refund, asking for a change to a rule or a service charge reversal on your credit card, to name a few. After hearing NO, most will just walk away. But the persistent will enter into the world of negotiation, the art, and the dance. (The intricacies of negotiation I will leave to a more detailed post)

The Power of NO

NO is used because it has been statistically shown that the first NO eliminates approximately 75% of requests. Extrapolating, I would guess that the 2nd NO gets rid of the next 10%. The third another 5 %. So after 3 straight NO’s, YOUR persistence may finally grant your wish, just by the simple process of persistence. However, those 3 initial NO’s turn away approximately 90% of requests. That is huge. With those ratio’s it is obvious that anyone being asked should just blurt out NO. Look how much it can save “the requestee”. That first NO can save them time, effort, money or the requestee’s neck. The first NO nets them an 80% reduction in cost, work, hastle and the risk to them granting you a yes by sticking their neck out for your benefit. Their own career or advancement could be put on the line. This NO process preys on the fact that most of us are not persistent enough, nor prepared. Most will walk away upon hearing that first NO. Sad, when many of those requests will be justified, well founded and legitimate to grant. But without your persistence and your push, your case dies. So don’t let it die.

NO Has Many Forms

Of course, you won’t always hear NO. You will hear responses that are long winded, elongated, time consuming banter which can be immediately interpreted as a NO; just taking up more of your time, stringing you along and giving you false hope. It can be a polite way of saying NO. Despite how you interpret it, you have now entered into the world of negotiation and you better be ready. Often times, the party you are asking for something may not want to be seen as a pushover; someone who will give most anything when someone asks. But they also want to check how prepared and well versed you are into the background of your request. Successful negotiation means both parties get something; a “win-win” conclusion. And what could be better than that. Both sides get something and everyone wins. You may even hear my all time favorite response, “Well, If I give something to you, then everyone will expect the same !”

Be Prepared For NO by Learning YES

Be prepared. Do your homework. Prepare yourself for that first NO and jump into action upon hearing that NO. Negotiation  means being able to listen and listen very well. Listen to every word you are being told for clues as to why there is that hesitation to give you what you ask for. Forget about yourself for awhile and put yourself into the requestee’s place. Are they making good points? Or are they just waffling. See the NO from their point of view. When you sense or suspect the barrier, you can address it in your next response. Your counterpart may tell you why NO up front and what it would take to grant you a YES. Other times, they may dance around with other questions, probing as to how well backgrounded you are with your ask. How will it benefit the company?  Me? You? Our project?. What is the payback? How long to reach the payback (break-even)?

NO Leads into Negotiation

Yes or No, what is most likely to ensue is a lively and informative discussion. Your “requestee” may learn more about your request. You will learn about why they are hesitant to grant you a YES. Full understanding of the context of the request may also be discovered, both from their perspective and yours. Soon after the discussion, the negotiation may ensue. After some initial fact finding and discussion, issues may be placed on the table, even some conditions. Sometimes it may even feel like the requestee is just covering their butt from their superior or who they answer to.

My Point

My purpose in writing about NO, is YOU. Don’t be inclined to just walk away after hearing that first NO. Be prepared to state your case. Be vigilant. Make certain you are fully grounded in your argument, your facts, what you are going to say, why you are asking for a YES. Be fully confident in your case, your YES. Most people just see that first NO as a brick wall and are quick to lose faith, confidence and the belief in what they are asking for. Be persistent and strive for your YES.


I am a video marketer, videographer, blogger, story teller - always looking for the next story - YOUR story.I coach and write soft skills articles based on my experience to help you become a better speaker, leader, presenter and influencer.I capture and deliver your story in video so you can best connect with your audience.