In a recent post I talked about how I try to hear everything as either “please” or “thank you,” and how this supports the quality of communication and connection I have with others, and thereby improves the quality of my relationships.
While that practice provides invaluable support for both my personal and professional relationships, there’s another practice I picked up along the way that fits with it hand-in-glove.
Long ago I heard Kelly Bryson, author of Don’t Be Nice, Be Real, ask the question: “Where could you go if you weren’t afraid of ‘no’?”
He points out how many people are prevented from going after what they want in life by their fear of hearing that dreaded word, “NO!”
It’s a good point, and one that I’ve taken to heart. Here’s how the question occurs to me these days…
Where Could You Go If You Never Heard “No”?
What would it take to transform your fear of hearing the word “no” in your most important relationships–intimate, dating, family, work … ? Even better, how would it be if no one ever said “no” to you again?
Well, the easy way to never hear no is by never again asking anyone for anything. But that’s living kind of small isn’t it?
“Well, isn’t it inevitable,” you might ask, “that if you ask people for things that some of them are bound to say ‘no’?”
Here’s the trick–and it’s not really a trick at all.
Never hearing “no” starts by understanding that you never hear what other people say in the first place. Never!
You only hear what your brain tells you that you think they’ve said.
What’s the difference?
I know you believe you understood what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
Somewhere I read that the words people use only convey 10% to 20% of the meaning that is intended. Another 20% to 30% is conveyed through intonation, pitch, pacing, etc. of the voice. And the remainder, the bulk of the meaning, is conveyed through facial expression and body language.
Then your own frame of mind gets added in, and your circumstances, and everything else that goes along with the way your brain is influenced in its interpretation.
And here’s where your interpretation gets even more dubious.
The more reactive you are to hearing certain things the more your transparent beliefs, unacknowledged commitments and habitual interpretations are likely to cause you to misinterpret the other person’s intended meaning.
It seems obvious that you never hear what somebody else says, you only hear what your brain has interpreted that they’ve said.
How to Hear “No” as “Yes”
The problem with the word “no” is that it conveys too little information. “No” is actually an expression that a person wants something different than what you’ve requested, but without any explanation of what they do want instead.
That’s why I don’t think there is a more emotionally charged word in the language than the word “no”. It conveys too little information–and we usually fill in the blanks with the worst possible stories.
I’ve come to understand that whenever a person says “no” to something I’ve requested, they’re actually saying “yes” to a different strategy than the one they inferred from my request.
“No” simply means that they prefer a different strategy they believe is more likely to get them what they value or what they need.
The “Yes” Guess Game
So people never say “no” to what you’ve requested. They’re always saying “yes” to something else that they prefer, but they’re not letting you in on what they’re saying “yes” to.
In my mind, negotiation is all about creating alignment in the areas of values and strategies–and in that order.
So, since I can’t hear “no” anymore, my natural inclination is to begin to discover the unexpressed values and strategies that the other person prefers to the ones implicit in my request.
What’s most important for me here is to make sure that wherever we end up in the negotiation, we find strategies that are entirely in harmony with both of our values and that don’t leave anything out that either of us need to be satisfied.
Turning “No” into Know
How to orchestrate such a negotiation is a little bit beyond the scope of one blog post. Simply put, you need to have a conversation that primarily has your attention focused on creating an alignment of your values. Once this alignment has been achieved then, and only then, try work out strategies that will be successful in respecting what everyone wants.
Even without all of the distinctions you may need to have such a conversation, hopefully you’ve gotten the gist of how it might possible that you would never hear “no” again.
Because really “no” is only a poorly expressed “yes.”
(Mmmmm, “Distinctions!” There is a juicy topic…)
Would You Take On This Practice – Yes or No?
Again, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about the possibility of never hearing “no” again, and what happens the next time you try hearing “yes” instead.
Until next time …
Committed to Your Success,
Comments Off on Never Hear The Dreaded “No” Word Again