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The One Thing You Should Do in Every Negotiation

“Tim, I think this opportunity is a perfect fit for you. Would you like to move forward?”

“No, thank you. It isn’t something I am interested in at this time. The position isn’t a good fit for my career goals.”

“Well Tim, let me tell you why I think you should reconsider.”

When someone tells you no, what do you say? By “no,” I mean anything other than what you want to hear. Do you try to persuade with logic or emotion? Do you appeal to their ideals or desires? There are hundreds of publications on influencing this and negotiating that, but many of them miss one crucial point. I am going to share the one thing, I believe, that will completely change the direction of your conversation.

But before we dive in, let’s talk about objections. In an ideal world, there would be no objections and your pitch would be accepted out of the gate, right? Maybe if your goal is to get a yes with minimal effort, but not if you truly want to provide a service and meet the needs of each person. People are individuals and they have individual goals and objectives. An objection isn’t a bad thing. It is a positive sign that you are dealing with someone who isn’t afraid to tell you no, who can possibly give you more information to move the conversation forward, or can help you to do better in the future.

Consider why you are being told no; because, it’s either them or you. If it’s them, perhaps the timing is off, they aren’t the right decision maker, there is genuinely not a need for what you are offering, there is a budget issue, etc. etc. etc. If it’s you, perhaps your approach is wrong, you have not communicated well, you don’t understand what they are looking for, you are not creating a solution to their problem, etc. etc. etc. There could be any number of reasons. What do you do to move the conversation forward? Well, here it is. Here’s one thing you should do when you are told no: acknowledge them, by acknowledging what they told you.

When someone tells you no, and you respond with more information hoping that something will stick, chances are you will be perceived as over-selling, not listening, and possibly not caring about your prospect. And, they are probably right. Selling is about putting your customer first and providing a real service. When your prospect has an objection, acknowledge them by appropriately repeating their concern.

“Tim, I understand this position doesn’t sound like a good fit. Can you tell me a little bit more about your career goals?”

If someone feels heard, they are more likely to be open to answering questions that move the conversation forward. For example, if you are a Recruiter and someone tells you they don’t want to work in a specific area, let them know that you understand that commute time is an important variable, and then ask them how they would like to prioritize it in their search. Don’t minimize their objection and then remind them of all of the potential perks of the position. Let them know they are heard.


When you let your audience know that you “hear” them, you will in turn be heard. By making the conversation about them, not you, you will promote trust and openness. Your objective shouldn’t be to overcome their objection with tricks or tactics. Rather, work to understand your prospect, their needs, and see how you can provide the best solution. They will thank you for it.

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