News & Research Archive

The Power of the Word "No" and How You Deal with it in Your Life

Apr 27, 2009

“No”, arguably the most important word in the world. The use of the word “No” has had the most important impact for all us personally as well for everyone as a whole. “No” has lead to wars, has lead to personal failure, and has lead to lost opportunity. It has held us back and it continues to prevent us to succeed. “No” is easier to say then yes and therefore in the “ying and yang” of life it appears that it keeps us off balance.

Some people automatically say “No”. My mother for instance says ‘No” to any opportunity first. “Mom do you want to go out today?” “No”. “Mom do you want to consider this way to do it?” “No”. But in my mom’s case as well as many, using “No” as their first answer means they are really looking for a yes. They want to be convinced that yes is the right answer and are waiting for someone or something to convince them to say yes.


“No” is also not always a negative. It can be a positive. Take football for instance. You play offense to score, you play defense to prevent a score. Yes you want to score when you play offense and “No” you don’t want the other team to score when you play defense. ‘No” in this case is a positive decision.


‘No” can appear to be the right decision sometimes and you can convince yourself that ‘No” is a positive move. Yet, the decision to say ‘No” could have very bad consequences. Take the San Francisco Giants decision to say ‘No” to trading Gaylord Perry for a young up and coming rookie named Steve Carlton instead of their ultimate decision to saying yes to trading Perry for “Sudden Sam” McDowell. Perry and Carlton ending up in the Hall of Fame. “Sudden Sam” proved not to be so “Sudden” and didn’t last more than a year with the Giants.


Working in sales, we know that if we make 100 cold calls, that in order to get two yeses, we have to hear “No” 98 times. But successful salespeople look at ‘“No” differently, they look at “No” as “yes is around the corner”. They look at “No” as a challenge to get a yes. They know that if they continue to work on people that say “No”, eventually they will say yes.


One of the most important decisions I learned from my salesman Dad occurred when I made the sales call with him as a teenager. My Dad was all about servicing a client but his idea of servicing a client crossed way beyond just serving his product it was assisting his clients in whatever they needed whether it related to his product or not.


My dad was a manufacturer's representative and handled a number of different food related products selling to vending machine operators. One early morning, we visited a customer and my father pitched the idea to have this customer switch his current coffee brand to my dad’s. My dad obviously had made this pitch a number of times before without success but this time the customer said yes and would order. Soon after, the phone rang and this customer had a major problem with a series of vending machines that were down in an important client. His mechanic was not able to fix the vending machines and the client was extremely upset. My dad immediately volunteered to help, which he did quite regularly. It took the entire day but my dad by himself helped get the machines up and running again. When he returned to his customer’s office expecting to take the order they had discussed earlier that morning, the customer said, “Thanks for helping us today. However, while you were gone, the current coffee vendor came in and we gave him our order. So “No” we will not be switching coffee brands at this time.”


That ‘No” was devastating to me. I could not understand why my Dad did not go into that customer’s office and punch the guy. I asked my Dad if he were mad, he looked so calm. “Dad why did you take that?” I asked. His respond was something that I have never forgotten, “Son, we will get them the next time, he will eventually say yes.” As it turned out, the customer eventually did say yes and my dad had their business for a number of years later.


Salespeople cannot exist with a negative ‘No”. They can only exist with a ‘No” that will lead to a positive yes. See how you use no in your life. It has such powerful consequences on how you deal with it.




Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 24 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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