Just Say No

The late Jim Camp, one of the worlds “most feared negotiators,” was a big fan of the word No.

Camp even wrote a few books around this idea, No and Start with No.

Photo "CL Society 218: Crossing arms" by Francisco Osorio, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
“I said No and I mean No!” Photo “CL Society 218: Crossing arms” by
Francisco Osorio, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

No, Camp reasoned, allowed people to hold on to the status quo. No didn’t require action, No didn’t force someone to do something they weren’t prepared to do.

When starting any negotiation, Camp made sure that everyone had the right to say No at any point during the conversation.

Stealing someone’s right to say No

puts them into an awkward position!

Cornering someone into a Yes removes the trust you may have built. It leads people to distrust you and your motives.

We’re often afraid of the word No.

We don’t want to say it — we might hurt someone’s feelings.

We don’t want to hear it — it may not be the answer we hoped for.

And so… we often avoid it.

Now, if we can reframe this fear, however, we find a lot of power in No.

No allows us to keep our schedule free.

No allows us to search for better options.

And, No allows us to remove the neediness that an immediate Yes might signal.

Just as the best time to search for a job is when you already have a job…

and the best time to shop for a car is when you have a working car…

and the best time to find a romantic partner is when you’re not looking…

People can smell your unpersuasive neediness, and they can take advantage of that.

No isn’t something to fear.

Ben Settle, copywriter and PRL Podcast guest, recently released his third book on persuasion. (Settle is a big fan of Jim Camp and discusses it on our podcast).

In this book, Settle delves into Jim Camp’s ideas of No as one of the tools we must use for persuasion and mindset.


I came across this article last week on the French and their common use of No:

Why the French love to say No (BBC)

It seems that the French have a natural tendency towards No.

As we learned in The Secret of Selling Anything, we can provide the best solution to people —and more easily persuade them towards taking action— when we know their values.

And when they feel understood.

Let people use No with you, and work to identify their values and pain points.

And when you get to Yes, you’ll have a far better relationship and understanding to work from.

Keep your focus,