"No"s clarify and begin a negotiation

Every ‘No’ gets me closer to a ‘Yes.’

Mark Cuban

The “old-school” sales/negotiating tactic of string together positive responses is outmoded. Getting a person to just say yes is often counter productive because the person recognizes the tactic or they are delivering a counterfeit or compulsory “yes”. Instead Chris Voss recommends the anti-“niceness ruse” of getting a “No” 1. This approach was popularized in Jim Camp’s Start With No2.

The No has benefits:

  • “No” responses actually clarify the counterparty’s position and allows them to feel they have control over the boundaries of the discussion. “No"s are actually the start of the negotiation, not the end of
  • “No” allows the real issues to be brought forth;
  • “No” protects people from making—and lets them correct—ineffective decisions;
  • “No” slows things down so that people can freely embrace their decisions and the agreements they enter into;
  • “No” helps people feel safe, secure, emotionally comfortable, and in control of their decisions;”


Voss, C. & Raz, T. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. (Harper Business, New York, 2016).
Camp, J. Start with NO.The Negotiating Tools That the Pros Don’t Want You to Know. (Currency, New York, 2002).