What is waiting for you on the other side of yes?

Saying no more effectively

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Improv comedy veterans know that the fun is always on the other side of a yes.

That’s where the most engaging, memorable and hilarious scenes and characters are born.

What’s fascinating is, in the business world, the opposite is true. Problems are always on the other side of a no.

I have a colleague who manages the call center at a company that produces charity marathons. His customer support agents interface with thousands of runners from around the globe every day.

And in his fifteen years of experience, as soon as you start telling users no, they start withholding feedback. And that’s a dangerous place to be for a service organization to be. Without feedback, they’re just winking in the dark.

But here’s the challenge. From an empathetic standpoint, they want to assure users feel heard and their requests are taken seriously. But from an economic standpoint, they’re dealing with a large number of users who all have a unique opinion about how something should work, and time and resources are finite.

Where’s the middle ground?

One option is to combine education with empowerment. Here’s what that looks like.

First, you honestly explain to the user, look, there are some reasons that’s not going to happen, and I want to explain to you why. And then, once you’ve helped the user understand their situation more holistically, you give them options. You offer them power. Simply by asking, okay, here are three ways we can solve your problem. Which one would you prefer?

Think of it this way. A coffee shop could post a sign on the door that says, no dogs allowed. Or they spend a few hundred bucks to create an outdoor pet bar complete with water dishes, milk bones, poop bags and leash hooks where pets can wait outside while their owners are picking up their orders.

It’s the same policy, just a difference in framing.

The first approach defaults to no, while the other says yes creatively.

What is waiting for you on the other side of yes?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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Author. Speaker. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Founder of getprolific.io. Pioneer of Personal Creativity Management (PCM). I also wear a nametag 24/7.

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