Results through Relationships: How to say no in negotiation

How to Say No in Negotiation



Sometimes, saying “no” forthright might ruin or create tension in negotiation between parties and this can be detrimental to the relationship in the future. A successful negotiation depends heavily on how the other party views the resulting deal. To them, it may seem as if they are offering you a good deal with their final offer but you know better.

If the relationship is at stake, instead of saying “no”, say “I see another way to move forward….” or “How about if…”. Try different ways of framing the offer so that the other party becomes aware of how it may not be ideal for you. Framing allows you to give subtle suggestions without seeming rude.


In other words, create a win-win scenario by saying yes to a deal that you would initially say “no” to, but have revamped by finding value. When you consciously offer another concession in place of saying “no”, you have created a scenario that is worth more to you than what you gave up.

For example, if you are negotiating a deal over $10,000 and if the other party decides it gets $9,900, instead of saying “no”, find value. How about increasing the deal to $15,000? The stakes are higher now, but so are your chances at a better trade-off. Focus on your BATNAs. Focus on the ways to dramatically improve your prospects.


The big problem with saying “no” is that you never know what you could have from making another concession. Saying “no” is a finality that causes you to lose value in a negotiation (remember: good negotiations culminate from value-creation, having sufficient BATNAs).

This is especially so in a zero-sum negotiation. You tend to lose everything by saying “no”, so add worth by creating value that costs the other side nothing or little but may be valuable to you in the long run. A good example would be staff training that would cost the company little or nothing but would improve your skills as a worker (and therefore increasing value to your BATNAs in any future negotiation). If you find that you have exhausted all your possible BATNAs, have little care for further relationship with the other party and see that adding any more value to the deal on the table would only result in a big loss, then a “no” would be inevitable.


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