Did you know that if you want something from someone, it is much, much easier to get that thing if you ask them a question that is “no-oriented”?

In other words, get them to say no to the thing you want them to agree to!

This post is inspired by a talk I watched on YouTube where a former FBI hostage negotiator spoke about how people are far more likely to say no to a question or request.

This is because it makes them feel more in control and more comfortable than saying yes to something (a large part of it has to be not feeling comfortable about potentially signing up to something they may regret later).

Want an example?

Let’s say you want someone to be a guest speaker at your upcoming event (this was actually the example used in the video).

Compare the following questions (requests):

1) Hey Lisa, would you fancy speaking at our business networking event next month? We’d be looking for you to give a 45 minute talk on how to scale in international markets, if you’re free.


2) Hey Lisa, would you be too flat-out with work to give a talk at our event next month? We’d like to hear from someone who’s an expert on the topic of growing in international markets. Would that be a crazy idea? (there are two “nos” waiting in there!).

With the first question, as you ask the question the wheel’s in Lisa’s head are likely to be spinning, asking questions of her own such as:

  • Hmm, do I have time? Do I actually want to do what he’s proposing? How will I feel up on stage? What kind of audience is it? What will I get out of this?

None of the above sounds like it’s leading to a “yes” from Lisa, does it?

But when it comes to the second question, Lisa is more likely to be still, quiet, fully hearing you out and highly likely to think and ultimately reply with a:

“No, that sounds doable”

A “no”, that’s signifies an agreement. Jackpot!

Try it and see for yourself. I think in Ireland, we often take this approach instinctively, and maybe you do too. We say things like:

  • “You wouldn’t be free on Tuesday to do X”
  • “Would you mind if….”
  • “Suppose there’s no chance we could…”

I for one will be trying out this technique with my dental insurance company this week. I’ve been with them for years and so I plan to call them and say:

“I’ve realised I’ve been with you guys for nearly 15 years now. Would it be crazy to ask for a loyalty discount? Is there any chance of a slight reduction in my monthly payment?”.

I’ll let you know how I get on! In the meantime, ask for the “no” and let me know how it works for you.

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