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No is Yes in Disguise – Why No is Better than Yes

By April 2, 2018August 10th, 2020No Comments
large text, K-N-O-W with K and W black, NO in orange to highlight that to get to no, you have to Know first

“No” often hides the door to “yes.” This insight was shared to me many years ago by one of my mentors. And what he explained to me was that you need to Know what is important to your customers above all. Once you Know, you can determine what the customer likes and doesn’t like, their personal and professional goals, and so forth.

“No” often hides the door to “yes.”

From this insight, I developed my own technique of, “Discover the No,” the two letters inside “kNOw” or “K[no]w.”

You must “Get to Know” your customer. This is what everyone says. And everyone believes “Yes” is most important. When in reality, I have found “No” is most important. As such, “Discover the No” technique is counter-intuitive to most people. Getting a “No” sounds like there is a problem or something they don’t like.

Instead, see if “No” would work better with the personality of your customers and or the situation. In getting to know your customers, you learn what they don’t like, which is “No.” By understanding what your customers do not like, you are actually understanding what they do like. “No” is “Yes” in disguise.


Today, I have a client where the team is out of town two weeks out of the month. Saying scheduling meetings is a challenge, is an understatement. With their time commitments, they are perfect candidates for applying my “Discover the No” style of consulting.

For example, while developing a new presentation outlying the group’s strategy, we would collaborate and develop the outline. And they would be on a plane, train, or automobile. Through email and telephone calls, I would then show them two to three options for each of the major concept storyboards/slides. The team members inevitably would tell me more about what he/she didn’t like than what he/she did like. In my book, this is classic, “Get to Know – to No – to Yes.”

And this is perfect. I get the results and answers I want.


Sometimes consultants shy away from what may seem like a confrontational communication style. Try looking at how the customer communicates, the reasons, and what you can do to adapt your style to them to achieve the results you want.


Photography Source:  © Copyright 2018, The Chief Storyteller®, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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Ira Koretsky

About Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in communication, especially business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after storytelling coach, global speaker, trainer, consultant, communication coach, and public speaking coach.