How to Say “No” in a Negotiation

By Derek Gaunt | July 11, 2022

Saying no is the most assertive thing you can do in a negotiation, meaning you should only do it when absolutely necessary.

We encourage clients to embrace the concept of the “Phases of No,” in which we let no out a little bit at a time. This method enables us to let the counterpart hear and feel no without actually saying the word.

Now and again, however, you do need to say the word no. But you should only do that when you have dumped a heavy load of Tactical Empathy™ on the front end. That’s because Tactical Empathy encourages reciprocity. We go heavy on the front end because we want our counterpart to reciprocate when we ultimately make our ask.

When used correctly, the Phases of No does two things:

  1. It allows us to use that reciprocated Tactical Empathy.
  2. It encourages our counterparts to begin bargaining with themselves.

In other words, the Phases of No engages both sides of your counterpart’s brain, allowing them to get a better feel for you.

Keep reading to learn more about the Phases of No and how to say no most effectively:

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Black Swan Negotiation Skills Training: Quick 2+1™

By Derek Gaunt | June 20, 2022

We start every Black Swan live training session with the same exercise: the Quick 2+1™. It’s our foundational skill set. 

At the end of the day, people know how to ask questions, provide summaries, and paraphrase their counterpart’s position. But they struggle with Labels™, Mirrors™, and Dynamic Silence™—the three tools that make up the Quick 2+1.   

These tools are incredibly effective. They’re the fastest way to demonstrate that you’re dialed in and present in the conversation. 

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Communication Skills: 3 Ways To Make “No” Work For You

By Chris Voss | June 06, 2022

Does yes really always mean yes?

Absolutely not.

When we say yes, we’re committing to something. And immediately after we’ve committed, we begin worrying about what we’ve just signed up for.

This means, at best, every yes is a conditional yes. And oftentimes, it’s even worse: a counterfeit yes that’s uttered simply to get the other side to shut up.

Would it be ridiculous to find out that getting the other side to say no is actually what you should be gunning for when you sit down at the table?

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How To Get Buy-In With The 3 Most Effective Communication Techniques

By Brandon Voss | May 16, 2022

This blog was originally published on 03/6/2017 and updated on 7/16/2020.

Negotiation is an information-gathering process. It’s not about getting your points across. It’s about using Tactical Empathy™ to uncover the information you need to understand exactly where your counterpart is coming from—and then making sure they know that you understand them.

The best negotiators never sit down at the table hoping to get the other side to understand them. Just like Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, suggests, “Seek to understand before being understood.” 

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Let’s Put ‘Yes’ Out of Its Misery. ‘Yes’ Is Not Agreement.

By Chris Voss | December 27, 2021

At its very best, yes is only an aspiration, a hope. But hope is not a strategy, and aspiration is not agreement. Here’s why.

When Never Split the Difference was first published, The Black Swan Group used to say, “Yes is nothing without how.” Since then, we’ve updated our approach. Now, we teach that yes is nothing, and how is everything.

We also taught that yes is the last thing you want to hear. That was never meant to be interpreted that it was the final utterance that would seal the deal. It was always meant in the context of, “What’s the last thing you want to hear from your teenage daughter?” Probably “I’m pregnant.” Or, “What’s the last thing you want to hear from your accountant?” Probably “You’re bankrupt.”

Does that mean you eventually hope to hear those things? 

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10 Phrases That Reveal (Dangerous) Hidden Negotiations

By Chris Voss | August 09, 2021

“The most dangerous negotiation is the one you don’t know you’re in.” What hidden negotiations drain your time (your most valuable commodity) each and every day? 

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3 Sales Negotiation Tips for Women

By Davi Johnson | May 31, 2021

When a woman sits down at the negotiating table, her counterpart may harbor a number of preconceived notions about her, sometimes consciously but frequently not. Though it certainly doesn’t feel fair because these stereotypes have nothing to do with you as the woman at the table, you will nevertheless need to guard against them to get the results she’s aiming for.

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How to Build Rapport Quickly in Any Situation

By Brandon Voss | May 24, 2021

At the end of the day, people like doing business with people they like. 

This is why it’s so important to build rapport as quickly as you can whenever you sit down at the table. Once you’ve established rapport, you’re well on your way to the trust-based influence that is needed to achieve the outcomes you’re hoping for.

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The Most Underutilized Negotiation Skill

By Milton “Troy” Smith | February 15, 2021

The first time I ever handled a hostage negotiation, the whole thing was over in five minutes. I thought that negotiation was easy and that I was a natural.

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What Is The Black Swan Group's Negotiation 9™ (N9™)?

By Sandy Hein | February 08, 2021

The Black Swan Group’s Negotiation 9™ (N9™) are the nine skills that make it easy to achieve Tactical Empathy™ (TE™) —the best way to accomplish trust-based influence, which should be your primary goal every time you step to the table. 

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