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

Relationship Advice – Tidbit of the Week

Tag: Personal Growth,Relationship AdviceBeth and Neill

This Weeks Relationship Advice Tidbit

Are you enjoying all your relationships? How would you like some relationship advice that is guaranteed to Help.

We believe the quality of our life is created by the quality of our relationships. Think about it, unless you’ve chosen the life of a solitary monk living in a cave, your life is filled with one relationship after another. Your family and friends, the people you work with, the person that delivers your mail. Even all those momentary relationships you have with salespeople, servers and restaurants, and the clerk in the grocery store. The list goes on and on.

How much more wonderful would your life be, if each time you interacted with another person you both left feeling satisfied?

Are there any you would like to improve? Are you enjoying the relationships you have with your all your family and friends, what about your boss, colleagues or employees. How is your relationship going with your kids?

The Gift Of Presence

If you want to improve, enrich and strengthen your relationships, we suggest the very first step is learning to give the gift of presence. Now, we don’t mean anniversary, birthday or Christmas presents…  The presence that we’re talking about is the gift of listening to the other person without thinking about yourself at all.

“If you want to be listened to, you should put in time listening.” ~Marge Piercy

Being present for another person doesn’t mean just hearing their words without you talking. It involves you putting your self aside for a moment so that you can really hear what’s important to the other person. When you give the gift of presence, you’re not only demonstrating to the other person that you care about them, you’re also opening the only door to discovering solutions that will be satisfying for everyone.

So next time you notice yourself starting to defend your position, believing you’re right, thinking that the other person is wrong, or giving the other person advice about how to change, STOP… and try giving the gift of presence. What if you got to lose, except maybe a whole bunch of stress, frustration, and pain.

If you’d like to discover other related relationship advice articles, you can start by reading: “Are You Playing Together So That Everyone Has Fun?”

Committed to your success,

Relationship Advice – Simple but Not Always Easy

Tag: Personal Growth,Relationship AdviceNeill Gibson

Black and White Relationship Skills

No, I’m not talking about ethnicity, I’m talking about simplicity. Whenever I’m looking to improve the quality of a relationship, be more productive, or get through my next AFGO, Occam’s razor always seems to apply. “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.”

In this case, I’m talking about the simplest way to interpret what I’m working on. So, for example let’s say, as is so often the case, I’m working on my ability to hear what other people say in ways that are more enjoyable, more accurate, and produce more of the results that we both want.

Does that sound like something you’d like?

I’ve learned that of the simplest possible ways to hear what people are saying is to figure out if they’re saying “I need” or “I’m grateful.” Put it another way, whenever I can remember, I try to hear whatever people say as either “please” or “thank you.”

Is it Please or Thank You?

Sometimes it’s easy to tell which is which: “Would you take the trash out before we leave?” “That was a great dinner!”

It’s pretty obvious which of these is please and which is thank you. It seems much more challenging if we hear someone blaming, criticizing, or excuse making, using statements like:

  • “Idiot! Don’t you know how to drive!”
  • “Why are you wasting time on that?”
  • “You never keep your promises!”
  • “It’s not my fault that …”
  • “I forgot to …”

Again, it’s obvious that these are definitely not “thank you,” so they must be “please.” Unfortunately, they are please said in a suicidal way. Suicidal because saying please in these ways is likely to kill the possibility of getting the underlying needs met.

1. Have Need …  2. Take Aim at Foot …  3. Pull Trigger!

The sad thing is, it seems the more important, urgent, or critical the need is, the more likely people will express it in these suicidal ways. Ways that are likely to trigger the heck out of the people they are actually saying please to.

Most reality TV shows are a great place to watch this in action and to practice identifying which times people are saying please and which times they are saying thank you. Whether you use a reality TV show, or your personal relationships for practice, notice how the more hurt and more angry a person is, the more likely they are to express please in the form of blame, criticism, judgment, excuses, etc.

Kind of sad isn’t it?

What’s the Point of Hearing Please or Thank You?

How does hearing please or thank you help me have conversations that are more enjoyable, more accurate, and produce more of the results that we both want? It helps me remember that any form of blame, criticism, judgment, or excuse is the other person expressing a need. And that the more hurt or angry a person sounds the more desperate they are for help, and scared that the need won’t be met.

And if I’m able to hear a person desperately wanting help with their need, I’m much less likely to be triggered by the suicidal way they’re saying please, and much more likely to find in me the compassion to hear their need and to offer my help.

And giving with joy is the most fun game I’ve found to play so far in my life.

What Happens if You Try Hearing Everything as Please or Thank You?

I’d be interested in hearing what you think about listening to people this way. Even more interested in hearing about your experience if you try it.

It occurs to me that some of you might be wondering which bucket you’d put “yes” and “no” in. You might be surprised to hear that I never hear people say “no.” But that’s a different blog post. :~)

Until then …

Committed to Your Success,

Neill Gibson

Inspirational Story – The Love Of A Mother

Tag: inspiration,ParentingBeth and Neill

A touching story we thought you would enjoy.

A little boy approached his mother in the kitchen one evening while she was washing dishes, and presented her a piece of paper. His mom dried her hands, took the paper from the boy and she read it very attentively, this is what it said:

Mowing the lawn: $5.00


Image by Marind is waiting for les tambours de la pluie via Flickr

Cleaning up my room: $5.00

Going to the store for you: $1.50

Baby-sitting while you went shopping: $3.50

Taking out the trash: $1.00

Getting an A in math: $5.00

Cleaning up the yard: $3.00

Total owed: $24.00

His mother took a moment, and the boy could almost see the memories flashing through his mother’s mind.

After some thought she picked up the pen off the counter, turned the paper over that he had handed her, and spent a few minutes writing some things down, then handed it back to the boy.

This is what she wrote:

  • Nine months carrying you while you were growing inside me: No Charge
  • For all the nights that I’ve sat up with you, doctored and prayed for you: No Charge
  • For all the meals I’ve cooked, dishes I’ve washed, and clothes I’ve laundered through the years: No Charge
  • For all the trips to the doctors, hospitals, and principles office: No Charge
  • For the toys, clothes, and even for wiping your nose: No Charge
  • Son, when you add it up, the cost of my love is: No Charge.

As the boy read what his mother had written, a big tear rolled down the side of his face. He looked straight into his mother’s eyes and said, “Mom, I love you.” And then he took the pen and in great big letters he wrote: “PAID IN FULL”.

Even as adults we sometimes forget how much our parents did for us and it’s not until we have children of our own that we truly realize the love a parent has for a child.

A mother holds up her child.
Image via Wikipedia

So if by reading this you are reminded of your mother’s love, stop for a moment and, if she’s alive and lives near you,  give her a big kiss and tell her how much you love and appreciate her.

If she is far away, call her. If she has passed away, think of her fondly and enjoy the memories.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Is It Really True? New Rules for the Game of Life Quiz ~ Children’s Self-Esteem

If this is the first time you’re playing along, you may want to read our initial explanation. You can find it here:
Is It Really True?
Quiz Intro

Please remember that in this quiz there are no right or wrong answers. We simply want to stimulate dialogue about some of our commonly held cultural beliefs.

Consider this statement…

We should praise children when they do a good job.

what motivates you?

Do you agree or disagree?

Here’s what we came up with as we thought about the statement.

Why would people praise children when they’ve done a “good job”?

As we said last time, we believe that everything people say or do is intended to meet a need or to help them experience something they value. And when we want something we come up with ideas for getting it–strategies such as “praising children for doing a good job.”

So what is it that people want–the values–that motivate them to choose this strategy?

We guess that people praise children because they value:

  • Support: to help the child feel empowered in their ability to accomplish something meaningful, and therefore improve their self-confidence.
  • Acknowledgment: so the child understands the contribution they’ve made to you through their action.
  • Success: helping the child understand which behaviors will support their success in life.

Can you think of any other needs our values people might want to satisfy by using this strategy?

Why this strategy?

Now the question becomes, why would someone choose this strategy?

Behind every strategy we choose there is a [tag-tec]belief that guides our choices [/tag-tec]and our actions. So what are the cultural beliefs that lead people to choose this strategy instead of some other?

Here are some possible beliefs that may lead to choosing this strategy:

  • Children need authorities to help them learn good from bad, right from wrong.
  • The best way to motivate children is by using praise.
  • Without praise children won’t establish a sense of their value or self-worth.

Can you think of any others beliefs that might lead to using praise as a strategy?

Does this strategy work?

If your goal is to have children look to others for their sense of worth and have their actions motivated out of a desire to be praised and to please others–or the fear of not getting this praise–then we would say this strategy works.

We know many adults who depend on the praise and the approval of others for their happiness. We are not immune from this. We still catch ourselves hoping for praise and reward for what we do. And sometimes find ourselves disappointed and questioning our own worth when we don’t get it.

So, if what you really want is for the child to have a high degree of self-confidence that comes from a sense of empowerment, the ability to know if they are acting in harmony with their own values, an intrinsic sense of their self-worth, and the ability to know for themselves which actions will best support their success in life, then we think the strategy of praise probably does not work very well.

To the degree that we’ve come to depend on praise, not receiving it will lead to one of two scenarios–in children and adults alike. Either we start questioning our value, abilities and our internal guidance, or we end up frustrated and rebelling against the “authority” who failed to provide the praise we want.

What new understanding might make a difference?

There are understandings that can help people choose a different strategy than praise.

We discussed one in the first installment of this series: the difference between intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.

This time we are exploring the difference between:

Domestication: Any training process that uses a system of punishments and rewards to accomplish its goals.


Internal Authority: Using the principles and values we consciously choose as our guide.


If you’ve been brought up in a typical world culture, then you are no stranger to externally imposed consequences such as punishments and rewards–praise being one of them.

From a very young age, authorities in your life teach you what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s good and what’s bad, what’s appropriate and inappropriate.

And you quickly learned that you get scolded or punished for being wrong or bad and praised or rewarded for being good or right.

To paraphrase Don Miguel Ruiz from his book, The Four Agreements: We soon learn to use this system of punishment and reward on ourselves to control our own behavior so we can keep getting the rewards (praise, recognition, a better job, a bigger house, …) and keep avoiding the punishments (ridicule, loss of relationship, loosing our job, …)

It seems that the lesson most people learn from this is:

What other people think is more important than what I think.

Given the amount of time and energy people spend on worrying about what other people think of them, it doesn’t appear that the strategy of praise satisfies the underlying desire to instill people with self-confidence, empowerment, the ability to know and act in harmony with their values, or an intrinsic sense of their self-worth.

What might better satisfy these underlying values?

Internal Authority

Imagine that instead of Praise:

“It was very grown-up of you to help rake your grandmother’s yard.”

“Your such a good boy for cleaning up the crayons.”

“You are so smart to get an A plus on that math test.”

What if we supported children in developing their self-confidence and their sense self-worth by modeling the ability to know what we value and to offer appreciation for how their actions supported us?

Let’s consider these values again. How would we model our value for:


Our desire to help a child feel empowered in their ability to accomplish something meaningful, and therefore improve their self-confidence.

“I love that you helped rake your grandmother’s yard. I think it helps her understand how much you care for her. Is that why you did it?”


Our desire to help a child understand the contribution they’ve made through their action.

“I really enjoy that you cleaned up the crayons because I like it when it’s clean and tidy and I appreciate your help in keeping it that way. What was important to you about cleaning up the crayons?”


Our desire to help a child understand which behaviors will support their success in life.

“I’m happy to see you understood all the ideas in your math test because I think this will help you when you grow up the same ways it helps me with our family budget and running our business. What do you like about it?”

How would this be different for the child? selfconfidence

Imagine being raised in a culture where the people in your life understood what they valued and how to express their appreciation for your actions in ways that helped you develop your ability to know what you value.

Imagine that, both at home and in school, you were supported in making your own decisions, with respect for your internal guidance. And that the “authorities” in your life were truly interested in helping you explore what was important to you about your choices.

Do you think people would be as hesitant to rely on their own decisions or as worried about the opinions of other people?

How would it have been different for you?

What occurs to you?

That’s our thinking about this belief statement. Please let us know what occurs to you about any or all of this.

Click Here to make your comment.

We look forward to reading your response.

With great trust and respect for your ability to choose wisely,

Beth and Neill

PS Please remember to sign up for the RSS feed to make sure you are alerted to our next installment of: Is It Really True?