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Turning ‘No’ Into ‘Yes’ For That All Important Job
by Toni Seger
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Co-owner of a media/communications firm called ProseWorks(tm) Associates since 1992, Toni Seger has been a professional writer for four decades and since 2004, has produced a public affairs television show for the largest chamber in Maine.

If you’re a job seeker, you’re thinking about that all important interview and how you can make the atmosphere as positive as possible. If your research reveals the possibility of conflicts and shortfalls, you may be concerned about those moments of potential disagreement when your carefully developed presentation doesn’t impress or even completely misfires. At such times, remember this, you may not be able to spin straw into gold, but there are occasions when you can turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.

The purpose of all negotiations, including those involving employment issues, is to find common ground. By implication that means negotiators are continually dealing with the concept of turning a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’. So, far from being impossible, this apparent sleight of hand is done every day.

You can’t force someone to agree with you and you certainly won’t get a job with that attitude, but you might be able to negotiate an agreement that is perceived to favor all parties involved. This perception is an essential element in reaching a general consensus on all points. It is also a very important skill especially when applied to issues revolving around employment such as negotiating a raise or defining a new position or working out a new, more flexible work arrangement that’s never been tried before.

Everyone hits a wall at various times and places in their lives. Finding the right job can be filled with such moments. It’s easy to see such frustrations as final and many of them will be, but there are also lots of cases when ‘no’ actually means ‘not right now’ or ‘not in that way’ which is a very different story. If a particular job really matters to you, promise yourself you won’t see any wall as final before you’ve investigated the matter thoroughly. Further, if you’re considering a future in sales, this attitude is an absolute necessity. In the world of sales, until you close, both ‘no’ and ‘yes’ are continually subject to change.

If you think there’s a chance of turning a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’, start by trying to see things from the opposing point of view. People put up a wall when their needs aren’t being met or when they can’t see how those needs can be met. Explore ways in which your interests can converge. Is the Manager you’re talking with interested in your skills, but not your price? Perhaps, there is something in what you are asking for that would set a bad precedent for the company as a whole. Consider what you might be able to substitute or change that would help bring you closer together.

Sometimes, it helps to vocalize your understanding of the other side’s perspective just to bring it out. Be sure to preface by admitting you could be wrong, but ensure the other party that what you’re trying to do is work things out for both sides. You could begin with a discussion of goals. Obviously, if you’re working at cross purposes, the negotiation is likely to fail, but if there are common goals you can agree on, this may be a way you can begin building a bridge toward meeting those goals. Try role playing these conflicts with a willing friend and be sure to ask the person to play devil’s advocate and keep you on the hot seat.

If raising issues and identifying potential issues seems to lift the overall tone of the discussion, you might want to suggest actively searching for options that meet your mutual interests. Volunteer ideas if there’s an opening to do so and assure the interviewer that you are very interested in finding a way to work together in the most efficient manner possible. You might even propose a brief brainstorming session within a designated time frame. With a little luck and a lot of enthusiasm, you could find yourself moving past disagreement to the beginning of an enjoyable relationship.

The key to successful negotiation is finding ways that avoid letting negative responses form permanent obstacles to a final agreement. Solving a problem together is a great way to start a new relationship especially a new working relationship. Sometimes, just by recognizing the other side has legitimate concerns, will endear you to the person you’re dealing with because it shows you’ve thought about the situation and have some respect for the people you’re dealing with. However things come out in the end, you will leave on a good note and that’s very important.

If you’ve gone through this entire process and nothing is working, be honest with yourself about your situation. You might request an audience with someone higher on the food chain or in another area of the company or, if you find those suggestions are viewed as offensive, target another company altogether. In any event, try and make your parting amiable. Always leave any and all options wide open for coming back at a later time. Thank the person for the time and attention he or she has given you and advance the idea of coming back some other time to consider the question again. This is an especially good idea if it’s been difficult to concentrate because of other activities taking place.

There’s always going to be a time when no matter how well you think you’ve presented your case, the other side simply isn’t interested. Don’t waste time blaming yourself, try and learn everything you can from the encounter and apply that knowledge to your next possibility. Remind yourself, without anger or bitterness, that life is often ironic. Your next job offer could be far more advantageous to you and, in fact, you could be lucky that this one didn’t work out. Making that effort to turn ‘no’ into ‘yes’ could be the critical step towards success or toward satisfying yourself that you tried everything you could.

Published: Aug 29,2008 15:06
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