The ability to say ‘’No’’ Is one of the most important abilities in our lives. Saying No to others- when needed- allow us to:
- Manage our daily schedules as planned.
- Focus on our most important goals or tasks.
- Maintain the balance between our different priorities.
But even though saying No in some situations is very important, some people are not able to say it (and most of us avoid saying it sometimes) because of several reasons such as:
- Authority: the requestor is having authority (like their boss at work), and they feel that they must comply or else the consequences might be bad.
- Emotional connection: the requestor is important to them (a family member or a relative), and they feel they must say ‘’Yes’’ or else this person will be disappointed.
And no matter which type you are struggling to say No to in your life or in which situation, here are two things to keep in mind before saying ‘’YES’’:
1-Imagine the consequences of saying ‘’YES’’.
Is saying Yes going to ruin your plans for the day? Make you delay another priority? Or maybe even will make you go home late if you are an employee because you will need to do more work? Good. Imagine these consequences and their impact on your life and keep focusing on them before saying yes.
2-Share the consequence of saying YES with others.
Do not say yes and suffer the consequences that we talked about at the beginning of this article alone. It’s very important that you make the person who will request something from you share the consequences with you.
After keeping these two things in mind, now let me show you how to say No in a way that does not ruin your relationship with the requestor using the Japanese ‘’YES’’/ ‘’IF’’ rule of negotiation.
When you are negotiating with people from Japan, one of the techniques that they follow is the YES/IF negotiation rule. As an example, if you are dealing with them in a business transaction, and you asked them for a price reduction, and they are not willing to reduce the price, then they will say ‘’Yes, we can reduce the price, IF you (insert here anything that will be very hard for you to do)’’.
They want to be respectful, and according to their culture, they do not prefer to say a direct ‘’No’’. That’s why they say a conditional Yes only if you fulfill a counter-request that they will ask for, which most probably you will not be able to do. And accordingly, you will be the person who says NO and not them.
Let us see examples of how can we use the YES/IF rule in several scenarios:
Scenario A: If someone asks you for something that you know for sure that you will not do, then say a conditional ‘’Yes’’ only ‘’IF’’ they do something else that you will request from them, and then request something which is impossible for them to accept.
Scenario B: If someone asks you for something that maybe you can do, but you are busy with other priorities now, then say ‘’Yes, I will do it, ‘’IF’’ I can do it (in the evening/tomorrow/next year…etc.) because I am fully busy with some other things now. If the requestor agrees, great. You can do it when you have time. But what if the requestor was your Boss for example, and he insisted that you do it now? Then move to scenario C.
Scenario C: Let us build on scenario B. Let us say that your boss at work was the one who asked you to do an Urgent task now. And you explained to him that you are busy and that you can do it later, and he still insisted that you do it now. What should you do? Simple. Tell him ‘’ok, I will do it now, IF I can shift the other task (insert here any other task that your manager asked you to do) to another day because I cannot do everything at the same time.’’
In the end, your boss will accept that you either move this new urgent task to another day, or he will ask you to shift the priorities and do one of the older tasks later.
If you use the YES/IF strategy, then consider these points:
a-The request that you will use after saying the word ‘’IF’’, should be very relevant to the person that you are speaking to. As an example, in scenario C shown above, if you told your boss ‘’Yes, I will do it now IF I can shift task XYZ to another day.’’ And task ‘’XYZ’’ was not relevant to your manager or in other words, he or she did not request it from you, and it has no impact on him, then most probably he will say ‘’Yes, sure.’’ And he will not care. When you are using this technique, one of its targets is to share the consequences of saying Yes with the other person and not to face the consequences alone. That’s why if topic ‘’XYZ’’ is irrelevant to your boss, then you are still going to face the consequences alone.
b-Train yourself to use this technique. Do not think that you will apply it now directly and everything will be perfect. You should keep using it and step by step you will become better until you master it.
c-The more confident you are, the better you will apply this technique.
Try the YES/IF technique the next time you want to say No and let me know your opinion.