The Power Of a Hard and Soft No
July 4, 2019 Leave a comment
The word ‘No’ can be seen as limiting or oppressive, however, the power of no can work in your favour. During the last year, I’ve reaped the benefits of being able to give hard and soft No’s. These achievements include a job promotion and an increase in salary that was aligned with my request.
Continue reading to learn more about the power of No and how to make responding in the negative work for you.
The Power of No – What’s My Distinction Between a Hard and Soft No?
The distinction I make between a hard and soft No is not the textbook version, but it’s how I see and approach these 2 different tyeps of no’s.
A Hard No
This is ‘case closed’ No. When I give this No, I leave no room for negotiation. The No is final.
A Soft No
In these situations, I’m open for negotiation. For e.g. when negotiating payment with a potential client, I’ll give a soft No to their first offer if it’s too low. However, when I give that No, I’ll give reasons why and my grounds for why I’d want a higher fee. I also make it clear in my communication that although I’m refusing their offer, I’m open to negotiation.
Whereas a hard No means the door is firmly closed and bolted, with a soft No – I leave the door partially open.
What are the Benefits of Giving a Hard No?
Organizational psychologist Adam Grant, weighed in on the topic and stressed that the power of No is essential for one to carve time for one’s goals. He believes that the ability to say No is one of the most important skills one can have.
The advantages I’ve encountered from given hard No’s are based on my personal experiences. If someone else is in the same situation, based on their values, situation etc. – they may see fit to answer in the affirmative.
1) Strengthens Your Self-Discipline
…which in turn can bring you closer to your goals (either personal or work-related).
From day to day, some of the things I have to balance are my Berlin job (I’m an SEO Content Manager) and I do marketing consultancy work for a school. I also have to find time within the week to manage my blog and Instagram page. In addition, I teach a dance class which requires marketing and choreography planning.
This means that I’ve to approach my social life with a lot of thought.
These days, there are a number of social events I get invited to and I have to give a hard No.
These can be events that I would actually really like to go to, but when I weigh the Pros and Cons of attending the event and how it can impact my work, the decision becomes easier to make.
So in certain situations, honing the skill of giving a hard No and not falling under #FOMO’s creates the opportunity to bring you closer to achieving your goals.
2) Lowers the Chance of Getting Involved in Detrimental Work Relationhips (especially applicable to freelancers)
The detrimental effects that can occur when one collaborates with the wrong company for a short-term project include waste of time, loss of money (for instance, in these circumstances, creatives bear the financial project costs), stress and more.
In the fashion industry, you can’t swing a Prada purse without knocking over a new brand that’s popped up or a new ‘influencer’. As a result, there are many ‘suspect brands’ that prey on people who are beginners, don’t know their worth or are generally clueless.
In the last few months, my inbox has been bombarded with various creative blog collaborations. However, I’m not in the same position I was when I worked full-time in fashion. Then I was more likely to do collaborations to get my foot in fashion’s exclusive door. Now, I use my blog as a creative outlet and an extension of my CV. So I can afford to be pickier and give hard No’s when I see the collaboration will not benefit my blog or I. The positive outcome of this is that I have more time to focus on better side projects or personal development activities.
What are the Benefits of a Soft No?
1) Allows You to See the Other Person’s True Intentions
This applies to both your personal and work life. For instance, in the dating world, a soft No will let you see a guy’s true intentions pronto. Take for instance, meeting a guy and in the first few weeks, he’s all in your grill and all his plans start with ‘We’. Oh yes, he’s the ‘We guy’ (I hope you watched that SATC episode). Anywho, fast forward to him trying to pry your legs apart and you telling him that although you’re attracted to him, you’re not ready for sex now.
That’s a soft No. You haven’t told him you are opposed to sleeping with him indefinitely – you’ve said you’re not ready at the moment.
If he ghosts you after that, well my dear, you know what he was after.
As for work situations. So. A magazine editor approached me to write an article for their magazine. In the beginning- as how most collaborations begin- ‘the editor’ (how I shall refer to this character) was all sugar and spice. She responded to emails promptly (that part is important) and everything pointed at a positive outcome.
However, things turned south when we got to the topic of money and how much I’d be paid.
‘The editor’ made her pitch and in response, I wrote a detailed breakdown of the time the project would take me and the costs I put towards that. I also expressed that I was open to see what compromise could be reached. The editor then expressed regret in not being able to meet my costs and gave me another offer that was slightly higher than the first one.
At that point, I had other questions to ask as I’d not worked with the company before. So I asked if the fees offered were with or without tax. And Ladies and Gentle Ladies, I never heard from ‘the editor’ again. I was ghosted by ‘the editor’.
I’ve written an article giving advice on how on how to recover from being ghosted by a friend, and if you read it, you’ll know what I think of ghosters. Whether someone ghosts you in your professional or personal life, it says a lot about the person.
In the professional context, ghosting shows you their lack of professionalism amongst other things.
2) Improves Your Negotiation Skills
Salary negotiation is a skill. In my opinion, it’s also a bit like treading through a minefield – one wrong step and everything could blow up in your face.
One of the repercussions of working in the fashion industry and allowing myself to be used on many an occasion meant that when I began working in the marketing sector, it took me a while to know my worth.
For my recent pay rise, my boss was the one who broached the subject. That part is important because when it comes to salary negotiation – timing is of the essence. By my boss putting the topic on the table and giving me an offer, that gave me leeway to give a soft ‘No’ and make a counteroffer.
In the end, I was able to achieve the KPIs set to warrant my salary increase.
Giving a soft No in this circumstance allowed me to put in the necessary work to find out my worth. I got proactive. Beyond using online sources like Glassdoor, I reached out to the network I had built in my industry. It was the latter I found most helpful. Getting salary advice from someone who leads the department you work in or from an experienced HR is golden.
On this occasion, a soft No led to an agreeable outcome. Not only did I get a financial boost (Woop!), the process made me feel more in control of my future. To a point of course, because life has shown me time and time again that you never know what’s coming ’round the bend.
The Power of No
There are other benefits of giving soft or hard No’s and I would love to hear from all of you on the positive outcomes you’ve experienced from saying No.
Do you have the power to sayNno or do you find yourself agreeing to offers that you only regret down the line?
Join the conversation about the power of no in my comment box below. I’d love to hear from you ( :
Credits– Romper – ReSales, Shoes – Office
Photographer – Sabrina Von Heide