The Secret Power of No

It’s tempting to think of “no” as a bad word, because who likes to be told no? But get to know the secret power of no, and you’ll discover that “no” is a great word.


It can help you in two ways.

It allows us to focus on the things that matter

First, we’re all bombarded with requests for things, and we’re constantly asked to buy. However, since we all have limited amounts of time and money, saying no to things that aren’t our priority allows us to focus on the things that really do matter.

By saying no to things and events that aren’t meaningful to us, we can get the things we really want — and we have the time available to use those things. Essentially, we’re saying yes to the things that matter most to us.

It creates negotiating power

The second secret power of no comes to the forefront when you’re negotiating. I learned this early on, by mistake. (That’s the way I learn a lot of things.)

I was at a swap meet, and saw a violin for sale. I didn’t know how to play the violin, but I’d always wanted to learn, so I asked how much it was. The price was something like $200. I didn’t have $200, so I said “Oh no thanks” and started to walk away. The seller quickly dropped the price. I kept saying no, and continuing to walk away.

The seller followed me out into the aisle, and continued to drop the price til they got low enough that I could afford it. By that time, I’d figured out that the more I said no, the lower the price went, so I said no a couple more times. I finally did buy it at a very reasonable price.

What was the key there? Being willing to walk away (and actually doing so.) But that lesson doesn’t just apply to getting a good deal on something you want to buy.

Saying no to the bad leaves room for the good

The lesson really comes into its own when you’re negotiating things like salaries or severance packages. If you can say no to bad offers in those situations, and fight for what you really deserve, chances are good that you’ll either get exactly what you want, or you’ll at least be able to improve things.

Yet those are the situations where people are most afraid to negotiate. The fear make sense on one level, because it’s natural to be afraid that you won’t be able to get a better offer, or worse, that the current offer will be snatched away. And it could happen, I suppose.

But generally speaking, people expect some negotiation in those circumstances. Value yourself, and others will too.

Don’t be afraid to use the power of no.


  • There’s a lot of power in those two little letters……The power of not NEEDING something, and being willing to walk away puts you in control!

  • “Value yourself, and others will too.” That is a great line and great advice when you are selling yourself or a product of yours. When you are buying, the ability to walk away is the key to having the upper hand in negotiating.

  • Totally agree… however I don’t think we should get to the point where we say NO or YES automatically. That can be perceived negatively by others. Make sure when you say NO that you’ve thought it through. Being a YES person isn’t good… neither is being a NO person… People might think you’re negative.