How to Say Yes When the Answer Is No

Many of us who have worked in customer relations understand the importance of making the customer feel good. We do everything we can to help them get answers to their questions. Some of us, however, do not understand this basic premise in good customer relations. Some of us need to learn how to say yes when the answer is no.
If you ask an airline employee if you can check an extra bag and not pay the fee, the answer is no. Everyone must pay. If you ask a ticket clerk if you can get a senior discount when you are not yet a senior, the answer is no. Only people over a certain age get the discount. If you’re about to make a sale and your client asks for more discounts than you can provide, the answer is no. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
Saying yes when the answer is no is not an easy communication skill. In fact you are actually not saying yes. What you are doing is giving the person the satisfied sense of yes even though the answer is no. The Say It Just Right model of communication contains tips for saying yes when the answer is no. Some key points are to show compassion and curiosity. These are two of the Three C’s in the model. Compassion tells the other person you really care about them and understand the hardship this rule, policy or your inability to say yes puts them in. Curiosity shows the other person that you want to find a solution; you care about uncovering a way to get to yes even though the answer is no. If you are curious enough to search, you may very well succeed. Here are some additional tips to enable you to say yes, when the answer is no.
No matter how many times you’ve heard the same story, listen as if this were the first time. Really listen to what the other person is saying. You might hear something new. It is always a new story to the person telling it!
Say directly and specifically what you see the issue is. Do not describe how you think the other person sees the problem. You want to avoid using words that might cause defensiveness or that sound as if you blame the other person.
Don’t Blame!!!
Don’t put the person in a corner. When we feel helpless, we feel defensive. “There’s no other way.” “This is the only way.” “This is our policy.”
Avoid using the word, Why. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner that you needed a microphone?” “Why can’t you do it this way?”
Talk in “I” vs. “You” messages. I-messages tend to keep the communication less threatening and explosive. You-messages cause defensiveness. “You should have let me know about this person’s needs sooner.” Initiate the conversation from the standpoint of “I.” This doesn’t mean that every statement must start with the word “I.”
For example: Jack to Rachel
Wrong way: “You didn’t give me enough notice to change the room set up.”
Right way: “I’m concerned that we might not have time to reset the room.”
Involve the person in a solution. Let them know what you can do, not simply what you can’t do. Sometimes you can do more than you think. Maybe there’s a little wiggle room that you had not thought about. Even if you give a slight bit, it feels better than, “No!”
Use helping words. “How might I help you?” “What can we do to resolve this?” If one thing won’t work, ask “What other ways might make you feel better?”
Smile and show compassion. Be gracious even if you can’t give them everything they want. It’s hard to be angry at a really nice person.

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