The Fine Art of saying “NO” with Finesse

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December 8, 2016
Small Business ManagementHow many times have you said “ No” to a request and cringed inwardly at how callous it sounds. In the course of running a business, when life brings up billions of requests, favors and uncomfortable propositions, “No” is the right thing to say. But the sharpness of the syllable can be smoothed by combining it with a bunch of positives. Small business management has its ups an downs . Learning to say No may be useful.

Know what ‘No” implies

A straight “ No’ is an outright rejection. It applies not only to the request but also to one who made the request. In a business situation saying ‘No’ with no buffer becomes even more dicey. When an employee requests for a raise and your answer is ‘No’, take heed to add in some empathy. A direct ‘No’ may be belittling the employee. The employee has picked up the courage to ask you. So take time to explain. Make the denial more acceptable and it will be taken in the right spirit.

Offer Empathy, Positivity & Candy

When rejecting a request its important to keep three things in mind. Empathize with the person. Show that he or she is valued and make them see your side of the case. Bring out the positivity by laying down the facts and future promise. And believe it or not its works every time to soften the blow….offer toffee or chewing gum if there is some around.

When “No” can sound Positive

When a request is made to you, and you intend to say “No” , bring in the bigger picture. Talk about the company vision and the effort needed by all to go forward and grow. In this situation you are putting yourself on par with the requester and your rejection is such a situation makes you look forthright, considerate and responsible. Bringing in a third angle disperses the harshness and places the onus on the company and its principles and vision.

When “ No” earns you respect

If you are in a negotiation with an investor a ‘yes’ at every turn will show you in poor light. You are being tested for your competency and independence and you are expected to disagree. Its their job to question you and your job to field the question with a positive or a negative. No worthy partner, investor, co-founder wants to hear a yes all the time. Whether ‘No’ or ‘Yes’ the ultimate result is that they want you to make things better.

Entrepreneurial Learning

In whichever way it is said, ‘no’ explicitly states where you stand with the person who made the request and vice versa. This is just about all one wants to know. It may cause disappointment initially, but they are in a better position to tackle the future than before.

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] /

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