Small but Mighty: The Power of ‘No’
By Seth Cohen
‘No’. It is a small, yet mighty word. With just two letters and one syllable, a well-considered ‘no’ has the power to reveal a high level of integrity, and help to gain the trust of your team, colleagues, and clients.
‘No’ is a full sentence, but it is not a shut door. Often it is the word that allows the door to stay open and improve communication. The power of ‘no’ lies in the intention behind the response. Saying ‘no’ with a negative intention in order to shut someone down and keep them out will successfully do both. However, saying ‘no’ to save someone time and money reflects a positive intention that will instill trust.
Whether we are considering a referral to join the network or responding to a client about an assignment, we take the same meticulous care to ensure the high quality of our executives and our ability to match executives to the requirements of an opportunity. The willingness to say ‘no’ is in the DNA of Eleven Canterbury and has helped us form strong, long-term relationships, based on trust, with our clients. In fact, responding to a request with an honest, well-considered ‘no’ has brought in as much or more business than we would have gained by saying ‘yes’ and not being able to deliver our best.
We match our executive experts to our clients as closely possible. If we don’t feel we have candidates who will meet expectations, we let the client know. The same integrity applies when we interview referrals, ensuring that the quality of experts in the network remains high.
Is it more difficult to say no, than yes? For most of us who want to please, the answer is yes. It takes courage and the knowledge that you are declining a request in order to provide the best possible solution. Saying ‘no’ reflects strength, integrity, values, and principles and ultimately makes saying ‘yes’ more powerful by proving that you are a specialist, not a generalist.
Seth Cohen is the Managing Partner of Eleven Canterbury. He was a member of the Group Managing Board and Head of Group Offshoring at UBS AG.