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To Get Ahead in Business, Just Say 'No'

One of the best-selling business books of all time was titled Getting to Yes. It teaches people to reach what's called the win-win position. You do whatever it takes to get a yes answer. That's a win for you and a win for me.

But now a fellow is telling us getting to yes is a terrible idea, that in fact No is the best word to bring to the table. For twenty years, Jim Camp has been a negotiation coach. He helps people plan strategy in contract talks, job hunts, and important sales calls. He has already published one book called Start With No, and now he's out with another that has just a big No on the cover.

Forget getting to yes. Camp says No works better, both at the office and at home. If you don't believe No will help you get what you want, he points out, just watch a three-year-old obstinately repeat No . . . No . . . No, over and over again.

By giving in just to get a yes in negotiations, Jim Camp believes, you're showing weakness and fear. You'll kick yourself for compromising what you really want and need. Instead, he says, a polite, quiet and firm no has magical powers. It takes the emotion out of bargaining. You gain the other side's respect. You don't need to fear rejection, because you're firm in who you are and what you want.

By sticking to no, you gain, if not the upper hand, at least equal footing. You've increased the desire on both sides to come to an agreement.

Jim Camp admits that saying no takes practice and guts. You must be willing to risk losing the job or the sale or the raise if the other side gets up and walks away. Is it easy to say no when we've been conditioned to say yes all the time?

In a word . . . No!

No: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home, by Jim Camp, is published by Crown Business Books.