Get to “no” through “yes” is a guiding principle at Double Forte. If the first words out of your mouth when someone – the client, a colleague, me – asks for something is no, that person will shut down. If people shut down, you’ve lost your value. If you lose your value, well the slippery slope to some sort of oblivion has begun.

No is often the correct answer, but people don’t want to hear that. They want to hear that you can do what they ask. So instead of just saying “no,” answer with “tell me more” or “yes, if” or “yes, and.”

“What is the reason behind the request?” will help you answer the question in a positive way that most likely helps the askee without shutting them down. And the less you shut them down, the more you are valuable… and the more you’re valuable… you get the idea.

A version of this post originally appeared on Rocks are Hard.

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