Never Hear The Dreaded “No” Word Again

Tag: * Top Rated,Personal GrowthNeill Gibson

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.No to no sign

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,
Neill Gibson

Communication Across Differences

Difficult Conversations About Tough Issues

With everything that is going on these days–the elections fast approaching, economic worries, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan having no end in sight–you’re bound to have a lot on your mind. Are there times you’d like to talk to someone, but feel worried about bringing these topics up for fear it will end up as a debate or even an outright argument?

This fear is the result of the Us Against Them mindset that is so prevalent in our culture. Whenever we disagree with someone, this mindset leads us headlong into intense debates or arguments in order to determine who is right and who is wrong about the issue.

Creating a WE Mindset

In order to create relationships from a new perspective–what we call the We mindset–it’s critical that we start by establishing a sense of alignment.

The process of creating alignment begins by getting clear about what’s important to everyone involved–what you each value. To figure this out you can start by asking: “How do we want to treat each other during the conversation about the issue?” and then, “How can we discover what we each value, rather than just debating our opinions?”

So instead of beginning a conversation by arguing the issue–such as whether or not we need more or fewer troops in Iraq–you try to discover what values are represented by these opinions. People with either of these opinions may each value safety, support, or perhaps predictability.

Discovering Alignment in Underlying Values

That’s the interesting thing about creating alignment. When you get under people’s opinions and get to their values, you’ll find that these are often the same. And that makes it much easier to get on the same page.

Creating this initial alignment is how you start co-creating a context for discussions where everyone’s ideas are heard and valued–where the point is to exchange ideas and gain clarity, rather than prove whose opinion is right and whose opinion is wrong.

Beginning any important conversation by creating alignment paves the way for far greater satisfaction for everyone involved, and allows for the possibility of being heard and understood about what’s really important to you.

“I now see that the major shift in human evolution is from behaving like an animal struggling to survive to behaving like an animal choosing to evolve. … And to evolve, we need a new kind of thinking and a new kind of behavior, a new ethic and a new morality. It will be that of the evolution of everyone rather than the survival of the fittest.”
~Jonas Salk Quote

Alignment is crucial if you want to enjoy the benefits of the We mindset in your relationships.

Two Questions that Ease Communication

So, before you have any important conversation, STOP and ask yourself these questions: “How would I like this conversation to go?” and, “How can we get to what we value rather than just debating our opinions?” This internal clarity will help get you focused on the We mindset prior to starting the conversation.

Then, start the conversation by letting the other person know you would like to hear what’s important to them about the topic, and let them know you’d also like to he heard and understood about what’s going on for you. Ask if that kind of conversation would be enjoyable for them as well.

Remember, the shortest path to a happy life is found through conscious choice.

Until next time…
Beth and Neill

To learn more about creating alignment and how to have a life filled with joy and satisfaction, visit:
The Art of Conscious Connection