Negotiating from No to Yes

Here’s a different form of negotiating.. Don’t accept ‘No’ as an answer, when you need something for your project. Why do I say that?

As a Project Manager I am being paid to ensure that I deliver this project for my Business Owner, to the best of my ability, on time, on budget and within scope.  And yes, those are the standard project success factors.  We can talk about other just as important things to measure success by, but I will leave that for another post.

If you were to consider that by receiving a ‘No’ the person giving you that response is really saying to you

– “I don’t understand fully what it is that you need”

– “There’s something that I’m not getting to allow me to deliver that for you”

– “There are reasons you aren’t aware of that mean I can’t do that for you”

– ‘I don’t really have control over what you are asking me for”

So if you get the ‘No’ response then ask then nicely why you can’t have what you’re asking for, ask them to explain what is stopping them from saying ‘Yes’.  This will often lead you to uncover issues that are impacting on why you can’t have what you need.

If from your questioning in order to better understand the reason behind the response, and you find that there are others involved in providing dependencies for a ‘Yes’ answer, then make it your role to go and see those people and ask them what it would take for them to deliver.

I want to use the analogy here of a bumper ball, because this can sometimes feel like what’s occurring when you start this process.  Know though that each time you get a ‘No’ and go off in seek of further help or approval, you are one step closer to getting what you need delivered for your project.

The other thing that I find useful is explaining clearly and succinctly to people why you need what you need.  By doing this you help them to understand the importance of a time frame, or a dependency full stop.  You MUST communicate.

If you use this approach and find that you’ve gone around in a circle, or there is really a blocker to getting what you need, then ESCALATE straight away.  Don’t sit on the problem, hoping it will go away.  Remember your project deadline.. it’s important.

You need to manage everyone and everything so that it’s all delivered in the time frame you’ve been given.  This, after all is what, management is all about..  managing – whatever needs to be managed in order to deliver.

You will have a wonderful sense of pride when you do deliver on time, and on budget.. especially when you have so many people on side, because they feel as if you’ve supported them in order to have your needs met.


Written by Karen Munro