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Saying No By Saying Yes

April 20, 2020

The first time I went to Haiti, I was expecting the rush of people to “help me.” In fact, when you arrive at Haiti, it’s very important to grab your bag as soon as it comes through customs. If you don’t a very helpful man in an semi-official looking white shirt with red epaulets will grab it and start “helping” you to a taxi.

Hey, that’s my bag!

No problem.

I want it back.

No problem.

Please give me my bag.

No problem.

No matter what you say, the response will be the same. All the while, the guy will be walking you toward the taxi stand. He will flag down a taxi for you. (Most likely driven by a friend of his.) And he will load your bag into the taxi all while telling you there is “no problem.”

He has learned the art of saying no by saying yes.

Experienced sales people know that the quickest way to make a sale is to get the mark. . .I mean customer to start saying “yes.”

Even missionaries know this “technique.”

I’m not interested in your message.

Do you believe Jesus Christ loves you?

Do you want to live with your family for eternity?

Do you believe in the Bible?

Even telemarketers know.

If I could save you $50 a month without any reduction in service would that be of interest to you?

Don’t you want fifty bucks?

Do you like to save money?

You can use the same technique. I had a project that involved my client implementing a completley new network design. At the same time we had a bigger project of upgrading the networks for mutliple clients at one of our datacenters.

Now, my project involved both my primary and my secondary data centers. The second project was only focused on a single data center. The other project manager and I coordinated our agendas to make sure we were making best use of our resources. I didn’t want to be having an engineer pull new cabling at the same time he was having that engineer updating switches.

Management wanted to make sure that we were both running our own projects independently. We were, but possibly not as much management might want.

Rodney, make sure you are runnign your own project.

Of course.

No, make sure you aren’t having the other project manager working on your project.

Not at all. We want to make sure we are coordinating to make best use of resources.

If you agree with people, it’s hard for them to disagree with you. The key is to get them saying yes.

And if you run out of ways to say no while saying yes, you can always go with the Haitian expression.

No problem.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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