Posted by: aphr | April 25, 2014

Disagreeing like a friend

Ever been in a situation where you’re asked something that you don’t immediately get all ecstatic about?

  • “Can you finish another 30 page report for me by tomorrow?”
  • “Will you look after my dog while I’m on my back-packing tour to India?”
  • “Would you go to bed with me?”

I’m sure you have been told to avoid “Yes, but…” in conversations. And I can’t argue with that. The typical recommendation by your happy-times-always-smiling US-born communications trainer is to say “Yes, and…” instead.

Now anybody with half a brain will see right through that and feel like you’re shitting them. “Yes I totally want to spend the night with you. And I have work in the morning, so I’ll go home now”, yeah… right… lol…

Here’s something I have tried with incredible success over the last year or so.
Just say “No, but…”

  • “30 pages? Tomorrow? No, off course not. That’s crazy. But if you tell me which three numbers you really need, so that you can hold that performance dialogue tomorrow, I can find them and email them to you within the hour!”
  • “No, I’m not really a dog person. But I have a good friend who loves the shit out of dogs and she’s super responsible. I’m happy to ask her!”nobuts
  • “Nope, sorry, not happening, but I like the part where we dance and flirt and kiss, how about we do more of that?”

Do you recognise the Ninja skills going on here?
With this approach you have said your “no” clearly and unmistakeably. You are not hiding it with rhethorical twists. You establish eye level with the other person, you’re being respected, you have an opinion, you stand your ground, and your “no” is not disputable. But you are ending on a positive note. You are indeed helping them with their problem, you are focussing on their needs and adressing them. You are not just on eye-level, but you are a friend. A partner. A trusted advisor.

Good luck trying that one out!


PS: No, this is not a promise that I’ll continue updating this blog more than once or twice a decade, but I have a lot of ideas and
insights to share and when I find the time, I might… 🙂


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