5 Negotiation Skills to Flip No to Yes

“What if they say no?”

As facilitators, we hear this anxious question all the time from the professionals we teach negotiation skills to.

The good news is that you don’t have to be experienced at negotiation to start challenging “No.” In fact, there are numerous ways to maneuver and pivot through rejection that will actually help you get more of what you want. Below is what we hope an inspiring roundup of stories and techniques that show how women have flipped ‘No’ to ‘Yes.’

So you tried to negotiate something at work and got a big, fat 'No.' Here are 5 ways to flip that 'No' to a 'Yes.' Click To Tweet

1. Be Curious

Jodi Glickman, CEO of GreatOnTheJob.com, applied to Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management (JGSM) in hopes of earning a Park Leadership Fellowship, a $72,000 scholarship for two years. She got the news that she was admitted to JGSM but was not offered the fellowship.

“Basically, I called the director of the program to lobby for my candidacy,” said Glickman. As part of her lobbying, Glickman asked questions to understand what criteria was used to pick candidates. “Turns out, the director hadn’t seen my application because my GMAT was too low and candidates had to have a higher threshold. I didn’t know that – but it was a program for leaders committed to community service and leadership and here I had been a Peace Corps volunteer and policy analyst at the EPA. The director was like, ‘How come I never saw your application?!’ The next day the director called me to personally offer me the fellowship.”

2. Defang ‘No’

Before her novel, “The Leavers,” was published, author Lisa Ko set out to get 50 ‘No’s’ for her book in one year. Her method of developing a tough-mindedness for ‘No’ served as a strategy for improving the odds of getting her book published.

When she submitted her application to the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, she did not expect to win the $25,000 prize, and she was surprised when she did.

Once published, the novel, garnered multiple awards and was listed as a finalist for the National Book Award. Ultimately, Ko’s strategy for ‘No’ turned out to be a winning strategy for ‘Yes.’

3. Ask for a Different ‘Yes’

For one of the authors of this piece, Selena Rezvani – making a pitch, getting a ‘No’ and then asking for a different ‘Yes’ yielded great results. In 2010 Rezvani interviewed for a global spokesperson role with LinkedIn. But a few days later she got a polite email saying, “We’re going to pass – but stay in touch”.

A week later, Rezvani took them at their word. Rezvani pitched LinkedIn on co-producing a study on professionals’ negotiation habits – timing the results with the launch of her book, Pushback. And, just like that, LinkedIn agreed. The result of the partnership was a co-designed, worldwide survey, which garnered exciting results. LinkedIn engaged a major PR firm and made Rezvani the spokesperson of the study. She and her new book ended up in major media alongside the study results, covered by the LA Times, MORE magazine, MSNBC, CNN, Today and many others.

4. Show You Believe in Yourself

Sarah Eadie, a marketing professional in Texas, turned a rejection into a dream job offer by demonstrating her unshakeable self-belief. After being rejected from her top choice company following a first-round interview, Eadie stayed positive and continued to build rapport with the recruiter.

The recruiter called Eadie to confirm the rejection. Eadie recounted, “The recruiter said previously that she might be able to get me a networking coffee meeting with the hiring manager even if I wasn’t offered an onsite interview. So, I brought it up to her.”

Soon Eadie was onsite for a coffee meeting with the hiring manager. Rather than press for the job she didn’t get, Eadie focused on future possibilities. “I gave her my background elevator pitch…and thanked her in advance for taking the time to share her insights. After we’d chatted for a bit, she then asked me if I’d be open to a position with the company!”

In the end, the hiring manager adjusted the open position to accommodate Eadie. With the help of Jamie Lee, one of the authors of this piece, Eadie successfully negotiated a job offer that resulted in a $15K salary increase.

5. Ditch ‘Nice’ for ‘Brave’

From a young age, we encounter gender-normative expectations in which boys are expected to brave risks and girls to be ‘nice.’ Successful and entrepreneurial women flip that script and brave risks, even in the face of repeated rejection.

In 2004, Stephanie Newby founded Golden Seeds, a venture investment firm focused solely on women-led ventures. In doing so, she created investment opportunities for women investors and funding opportunities for women-led startups, a cohort that has struggled to gain equal footing with their male counterparts in the race for capital.

One of those funded startups was Crimson Hexagon. Its co-founder, Candace Fleming, pitched 30 venture firms and was turned down by all until it raised $1.8M from Golden Seeds in 2008. Newby played a critical role in that investment and in 2012, she became CEO of the company.

It’s not a question of if you’ll hear “No,” in your career, it’s when. Remembering that rejection is common – and often surmountable – will help you be ready to pivot.

What’s your favorite way to flip a ‘No’ to a ‘Yes’?

This article was coauthored by Jamie Lee , Leadership and negotiation coach, and originally written for Cartier – Women’s Initiative Awards  an international business plan competition created to identify, support and encourage projects by women entrepreneurs.

Photo credit: Unsplash, Letizia Bordoni.

Selena Rezvani

Selena Rezvani is a recognized consultant, speaker and author on women and leadership.  A seasoned human capital consultant, Selena uses workplace culture assessments to help corporate clients be more inclusive and welcoming to women.  She’s also the author of two leadership books targeted at professional women – Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and The Next Generation of Women Leaders (Praeger, 2009). Selena has been featured in the LA Times, Oprah.com, Todayshow.com, Forbes, and wrote an award-winning column on women for The Washington Post.

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

Whenever I’m asked “What are some of the best questions to ask a ...

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

25 Songs For Your Leadership Playlist

What are your all-time favorite leadership songs — the ones that make you ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a question I ask in a survey ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.
If You’re Not Seizing Stretch Assignments at Work, You’re Doing It Wrong.

 These bonus opportunities have the power to boost your leadership cred and wholly transform your

The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop
The Case for Why Millennial Women Should Job-Hop

There are strong arguments for and against the debated practice, but for millennial women, job-hopping

Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment
Infographic: How to Slay a Stretch Assignment

Recent years have been full of talk about how to elevate women at work. Have you

Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?
Panel Presentations: Does Speaker Order Really Matter?

On speaker panels, does the panelist order matter? If you’ve ever attended or spoken on

4 Tips for Failing Forward
4 Tips for Failing Forward

After you make a mistake, it’s easy to focus intently on your defects. And then

Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism
Press Release: Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Wins 2019 Croly Award for Excellence in Journalism

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—July 9, 2019—The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is pleased to honor Selena

4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement
4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement

Are you hungry for a little more flexibility in your day?  If so, you’re not

Dealing with a Bossy Coworker
Dealing with a Bossy Coworker

You might expect the occasional “order” or “command” from your boss. But it’s a whole

Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards
Press Release: Be Leaderly Wins Gold & Silver at the 2019 Stevie Awards

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa—June 11, 2019—Be Leaderly, a globally recognized provider of women’s leadership development and

15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment
15 Questions to Ask Before Taking a Stretch Assignment

Stretch assignments are like the Instant Pot of career development. An intensely challenging, ambitious, go-big-or-go-home

Ask Jo: How can I thank my mentor?

Question: I have an incredible mentor. She ...

Teamwork is a Skill. It Takes Practice!

Everyone wants to lead, or be a ...

It’s Worth the Risk (I promise)

This is Sarah. She’s one of my ...

100 Leadership Qualities

What are your leadership strengths? That’s a ...

Leaderly Quote: Great Leaders Know When to Step Aside

“Great leaders know when to step aside.” ...

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Copyright 2019, Be Leaderly