We’ve all heard it. In fact, some researchers claim we heard it more than 40,000 times by the age of 5: the word “no.” Can I have some candy? No! Can I stay up late? No! Can I have some money? No! Can I….? No!

We are so accustomed and programmed to hearing the word “no” that most of us have learned to expect it even though we do not like accepting it. You hear it even in the present day in your professional career: Can I have some funding for…? No! Can I buy…? No! Can I attend…? No! Can I get promoted? What about a raise? Can I…? No, no, no.

Add in the stressors of the economy and we are surrounded by the fortified “no” response and resulting expectation. Things have not changed much from back in the day … or have they? The question is whether this undesirable answer be systematically turned around, and the answer is one word: Yes!

Our natural responses to questions often are the result of a subliminal yet purposeful risk assessment. That is to say, what is the risk of saying “yes” versus the risk of saying “no”? The “no” response is frequently viewed as being the likely safe choice or low risk answer. The word “yes” oftentimes implies a commitment that people may not want to make at the moment. Compounding the issue is a society full of distractions, where everyone is doing much more with much less. This set of variables encourages a natural habitat for the response of “no” to flourish.

So how do you turn a “no” into a sustainable “yes” when making requests of your leadership or team? Try these four steps:

1. Think positive. Remember, your expectations and approach are energy delivery devices. A positive approach never hurts.

2. Demonstrate why it matters. Perform the risk assessment and demonstrate why the “yes” is a better option in the long run. Use this approach: “Here’s my question, but before you answer, please allow me to share the pros and cons of my request so you can make an informed decision.”

3. Ask for immediate input on your analysis and viewpoint. Incorporate their concerns in your assessment and present a revised strategy that mitigates those concerns. Ask: “Is there anything that I am not considering? What are your thoughts on my justification for this request?” This step demonstrates that you are prepared and organized.

4. Give them time. If the glowing eyes of “no” appear to be glancing through the darkness despite your efforts, encourage them to take more time to make a decision. Say, “I know these things take some time to think through, so I’ll go back and review my request with your input and check your calendar to touch base again.” Work toward a “maybe” or “perhaps” answer, then regroup and return to step 1. Continue diligently until the “yes” is achieved. Resolve to accept no other answer.

Your ability to secure sustainable and consistent “yes” responses from your leadership and your team is the key to catapulting your career. It will define how you are viewed in the eyes of your leadership. Adopt this strategy and the likelihood is rather high that the “yes” will subdue the “no,” that the blank stares will be replaced with nods of approval, and that the apparent glow within the darkness bestowed in step four is actually the spark of something great to come.

It is just a matter of energy, expectation, approach and time. Yes!

Turn a “No” Into a “Yes” in Four Steps
EHS Today