Four other Ways to Say “No”

Zilvold Coaching & Training Blog
6 min read

Do you have trouble saying “no”? I do. In this blog, I share a technique with you that can help you to say “no” gently and clearly so that your relationships remain good, and you don’t have to feel guilty about it.

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When saying “no”, I sometimes feel like I am rejecting or disappointing someone. I can feel guilty, anxious, and sad about that. Of course, I know that when I say “no” to someone, I am actually saying “yes” to myself. I also know that if I keep saying “yes,” I have to do a lot and can get restless or in panic. There is little time left for what I really want to do. Do you recognize this as well at the office or at home, and do you also find it difficult to say “no”?

This technique can help you say “no” in a friendly but clear way. It is from Chris Voss’s book “Never Split the Difference.” An absolute must for anyone who wants to learn how to negotiate better and learn to deal with conflicts (at home and the office).

I think it’s pretty blunt to say “no.” Chris Voss’s technique will not abruptly end a negotiation, conflict, or discussion. Basically, you say “no” four times before actually saying that word. You say “no” in a way that the other party will start bidding against themself and that they have more empathy for you.

1st “No”: Ask for help

Imagine that someone calls you to sell you a particular product that you don’t want. Recently it happened to me with an offer for a new business internet subscription. I didn’t want it because it was almost twice as expensive as my current subscription, and I don’t have a good experience with new internet subscriptions. For me, there is always a period when I have no internet between the two connections.

What you can do is ask for help. You let the other person find solutions to your problem by asking how to do something. In my case, it is: “We often work from home, and we always need the internet. What should I do if I do not have internet for a day? “ or “We have a budget for the internet (at home or the office). How can I justify double the costs? ”. If you do this correctly, the other person will help you to decide or come with a better proposal.

2nd “No”: That is not going to work for me

In fact, you are negotiating by asking for help, and you haven’t really said, “no.” For example, I had difficulty with the fact that I had to sign up for a 3-year subscription. The saleswoman offered me to take a 1-year subscription, but then the costs would increase again. That was non-negotiable for me.

So when you are done negotiating, or you don’t want to negotiate, say the following: “That is a very generous offer. I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t work for me”. It’s a great way to say “no,” and you make sure there is no counter-offer. “I’m sorry” is a gentle way of saying “no” and creates empathy.

3rd “No”: I can’t do that

The other party may still insist. Then you can say, “I’m sorry. I’m afraid I just can’t do that”. This is a bit more direct. By saying that you cannot do something, then there is more empathy for you.
I really cannot double the budget for the internet. Try to justify that to your boss or your partner at home.

4th “No”: I’m sorry, no

Fourth, you can say, “I’m sorry, no.” You then say “no” for the first time. If you do this right, it will not come across as being negative at all.


If this still doesn’t work, you can always just say “no.” In this case, make sure that it is not a harsh “NO!”. You then say (or repeat) “no” in a gentle, soothing way.

I’ve been able to successfully say “no” a few times now without negatively affecting the relationship or feeling guilty or bad about it. You can also apply it if your boss comes to you with even more work, if a customer calls for a big quote he/she wants in an hour or if your child wants to stay up late. In particular, step 1 will be able to help you well.

Your WHY makes it easier to say “no”

It can be even easier to say “no” if you know your WHY. Your WHY is your contribution and its impact on the world. It is always positive and action-oriented. For me, there is energy, enthusiasm, and zest when I choose in line with my WHY. When I face a choice that is negative and passive and does not fit within my WHY, then it is easier to say “no”. Of course, it’s no excuse not to have to do difficult or time-consuming tasks because sometimes they are necessary to be able to live your Why. Read more about that in my blog, “Benefits of Living Your WHY.”

Do you also want to discover your WHY? Or do you, as a company, also want to be able to say “no” to offers or opportunities? Discover your WHY today. This can be done face to face but also online. Please contact me for more information or an (introductory) session.

How do you say “no”? / How do you do that in a friendly and respectful way? The other readers of this article and I are looking forward to reading from you!

Thank you for reading up to here & sharing this article with your colleagues, friends, or family. And please SHARE this article with your network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn by pressing the buttons below so that they can also benefit from this article about how to say “no”. You are welcome to copy parts of this blog if you state the source.

Have you seen an error in this article? Let me know! I am grateful!

Source: Never Split the Difference, Chris Voss

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