Growing and nurturing your network is a constant practice, and savvy business owners know that the give and take of relationship-building can be a rich source of opportunity beyond sales and referrals. While “making the ask” can be nerve-wracking, it can also lead to exciting opportunities you may not have seen. Giving and receiving support will deepen your relationships and establish you as a member of your community. Finding ways to make the ask more comfortable and respectful of boundaries helps build trust and leads to the ideal scenario, a win-win for everyone involved.
I’d like to share a powerful little phrase I use to relieve the pressure of “making the ask” for both parties. It works for the more significant questions in sales, all the way down to the connections and exchanges that arise in networking situations. To give you just a few examples: “Are you ready to invest this amount of time or money?” “Can we schedule a call to explore what a strategic partnership might look like?” or “Can I introduce you to someone I know who might be a good fit?” Then, for any proposition, big or small, I follow it with:
“Yes and no are both good answers.”
By giving the other person complete freedom of choice, you are more likely to get the answer you’re looking for, and you’re prioritizing your relationship over the situation at hand, further strengthening your connection.
There are a few more benefits of using this simple but effective phrase:
1.- Ask directly and with confidence
Putting yourself out there with an extensive proposal may make you feel a bit vulnerable. Yet, it opens more doors to more significant opportunities than playing it safe ever will. In these moments, using this phrase can squash the fear of rejection and remind yourself that “no is a good answer.” At the very least, you will gain valuable insight for the following conversation, helping you refine your process, your request, or your proposal.
This phrase can also help you sense if there may be a conflict in your conversation. Rather than shying away, this phrase helps diffuse any discord so that you can confidently open an honest discussion to find solutions that work for everyone.
2.-Ease the decision-making stress
Very few people like being put “on the spot” or asked to make a rushed decision; opening up both yes and no answers allows your connection to focus on what’s important to them in this decision without worrying about disappointing you. It reassures them that you are not looking for a quick win, but you are serious about following through with whatever arrangement works best for your connection.
3.- Get clear answers and next steps
One of the most significant advantages of “Yes and no” is that it helps you avoid “maybe.” If you’ve ever had a potential client or partner tell you “I’ll think about it,” you know how it feels to be in limbo: there’s no guarantee when they will be ready to revisit the conversation, and they may or may not share why they aren’t yet ready to commit. The worst-case scenario is they ghost you without giving you any indication of why.
The funny thing about “Yes and no” is that people hate saying no, so they are more likely to share the specific reasons they aren’t 100% on board. Even if the answer is “I’d like to, but…” or “Yes, on one condition…” you have made it safe for the other person to explore those hesitations with you rather than keeping them to themselves. And finally, if it is a flat-out “no,” your relationship is still intact as both answers are good.
One more thing…
There’s a big caveat to using “Yes and no,” and it’s that you have to use it responsibly. I recommend reviewing any notes from past calls before a meeting to determine what “asks” are appropriate for the relationship you have built. The phrase is not a loophole for making the most audacious requests. If your requests are one-sided or don’t consider the context of the relationship, it will not work as intended and may erode rather than build your relationship.
Remember, a “no” is less of a judgment about you and your offering; it’s a reflection of the other party’s priorities, ability, and willingness to follow through. You want to create a good match for their time and energy, and if now isn’t the best time to start working together. No rarely means no forever; it’s more “no for now.” And if you follow up with questions to learn more, you’ll likely be able to find opportunities in the future that can create win-win scenarios for you both. Practice using this phrase and discover the new miracles in your daily conversations—you and the other party will feel even more connected.
Looking for more insights on relationship building? Click here to download my free guide on Building Your Future Through Your Network.