Summary : "No: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home" by Jim Camp

1. I teach and preach the system based on “no,” which in a negotiation simply means maintaining the status quo.

2. My “No” system is a set of clear principles and practices that you follow step by step by step. My system is for Mom, Dad, the kids, the entrepreneur, the professional corporate negotiator, the CEO, the teacher, the realtor, the banker, the politician, the carpenter, and the diplomat.

3. As adults, however, we’ve been conditioned and trained to fear the word, so with audiences and clients I slowly and carefully go about proving that the practice of politely saying no, calmly hearing no, and just inviting no has a beneficial impact on any negotiation. In fact, the invitation for the other side to say no has an amazing power to bring down barriers and allow for solid beneficial communication.

4. I want to be very clear: The “no” principle is not about intransigence. Just the opposite. It’s about openness and honesty. The invitation to “no” tells everyone at the table that we’re all adults here, so let’s talk rationally. Let’s slow things down. Let’s take away the fear of failure. “No” allows everyone involved to put away the need to be right, to be the smartest, to be the strongest, or to be the toughest. It prevents you from making weak—and worse, bad—decisions because of your need to feel safe and secure and liked by the other side.

5. The “No” system also makes you understand the dangers of neediness. Simply put, you do not need this deal, because neediness leads inexorably to unnecessary compromise.

6. I still use checklists in negotiations just as diligently as I did as a pilot.

7. Negotiation is a complex beast. There’s a lot going on. Checklists keep it all under control. They give us such a tremendous advantage, such ease of mind. I will use them throughout this book, and I will teach you how to use them in your negotiations. 

8. You must learn to progress from raw, unexamined emotions, which never produce good agreements, to the careful decisions that eventually do.

9. But it’s hard not to get trapped in the emotional realm, especially because of one particular emotion that dominates all others in negotiations: neediness.

10. Like it or not, we are predators by nature, and the first instinct of predators is to take advantage of the fear-racked, the distressed, the vulnerable—in one word, the needy. We humans, at least, are also capable of wonderful altruism, but we don’t see much altruism in the world of business and negotiation, despite all the sweet talk of cagey practitioners.

11.  Every time you leave a long-winded message on an answering machine providing all kinds of information, you put yourself at a disadvantage. How? You’re too anxious and therefore seem needy. Each time you answer a question with much more information than is really called for, you are showing neediness and putting yourself at risk.

12. By cutting your price without being asked to and then explaining why you felt it important to cut the price, you are showing neediness and reinforcing a bad habit.

13. Many business negotiators are expert in creating neediness by feeding the hopes and expectations of the other side.

14. When you slip and allow yourself to appear needy you are in danger and your negotiation is in big trouble.

15. Test Drive Take ten minutes at the end of the day and assess your actions and your conversations, looking for signs of neediness.

16. Honest appraisal will uncover it. Did you talk too much or too fast in a conversation, negotiation, or interview, maybe to make just the right impression? Jot this neediness down.

  • Did you leave long-winded messages? Jot it down.
  • Did you make the direct statement “I need this or that”? Jot it down.
  • Did you get excited and start looking ahead at the thought of some success, great or small? Jot it down.
  • When you’re finished making your list, think carefully about the real motivation behind each item—not the apparent motivation or the rationalized motivation, motivation, but the real one. See if you can identify the neediness.

17. In negotiation, neediness is a killer. People who understand this—who see the big ways and little ways people express neediness—use this understanding to great advantage.

18. Test Drive After you have identified your own signs of neediness on a given day, look around your world and find the signs in others: the people who talked too much in an effort to please you, who needed to be right all the time, who needed to win at all costs, who needed to be the center of attention. If you look, you’ll find the neediness.

19. The next time you watch one of the predator-prey nature shows on public television or one of the wildlife channels, watch the chase scenes carefully. There are always one or two in which the lion or the cheetah is not successful, and each time the scenario is the same: The predator gets closer to the antelope…closer…closer, then slips back slightly—and immediately gives up. On the spot. When the distance to the prey begins to widen, the hunter quits. She will never waste energy on what’s shaping up as a losing cause. She saunters off, because it doesn’t matter. There are other wildebeest, other gazelles.

20. The rule could not be simpler: If there is any need in this negotiation, it has to be theirs, not yours.

21. Talking is often an overt showing of need. Therefore this rule: No talking.

22. I exaggerate, of course, in order to make the point that talking and neediness often go hand in hand. Many people have an apparently insatiable desire to make sure their voice is heard.

23. Why? In the very worst business environment, if you can successfully cold-call, you can always get a job. More important, however—more basic—is that cold-calling is a great training ground for negotiation, period, and it can be surprisingly effective because your neediness is under control. You have no great expectations, that’s for sure, and your discipline is keen.

24. The high-pitched voice is a sure sign of need. The rushed delivery is another sure sign. While needy negotiators raise their voices, negotiators under control lower their voices. So lower your voice in times of inner turmoil. Take it easy. You do not need this deal.

25. Many people live in fear of rejection, and what is this fear, bottom line? It’s the need to be liked. If you don’t need to be liked, you have no fear of rejection. If you have no fear of rejection, you can say no when it’s called for. When you negotiate, it is imperative to understand just what rejection is and who can reject you—and who cannot.

26. The people on the other side of the table cannot reject you. Why not? Because you don’t need anything from them.

27. You must understand that you cannot go out into the world spending emotional energy in the effort to be liked, to be smart, or to be important. This is all just wasteful and dangerous neediness, often enough because of a fear of being rejected.

28. As a negotiator aspiring to excellence, you must, at all costs, avoid showing need. In order to avoid showing need, you must never feel it. I cannot say this enough: You do not need this deal.

29. You only want this deal. “Need” is death; “want” is life. Believe me, this different attitude will make all the difference in your negotiating life. It will be instantly perceived and sensed by the folks on the other side of the table. Confidence and trust go up across the board. Control and discipline go up for you.

30. Sometimes, however, the need is real. Usually it is exaggerated, but not always. Quite often, the best strategy may be to reveal this neediness to the other party. That’s right. Put it on an agenda to be discussed.

31. Turning the situation around, have you noticed how we humans tend to feel okay when we see someone who’s not-okay? You feel okay when you see someone who doesn’t quite measure up in some way.

32. Remember the old TV series Columbo? He always presents himself as a little less competent than whomever he is interviewing and a little less than perfect—or, usually, a lot less than perfect. He could get his witnesses and even suspects to talk to him because he made them feel superior and therefore comfortable. And it was all an act on his part.

33. The wise negotiator knows that only one person in a negotiation absolutely must feel okay. That person is not you.

34. Let me repeat that point: I am not suggesting that you appear unprofessional. I’m simply asking you not to be afraid of honesty—not to be afraid of being less than perfect. Do you enjoy being around the perfect person? Most of us don’t.

35. Letting other people help you is an excellent way to help them feel more okay. It also says to them, “What you see is what you get.”

36. If you want to be a successful negotiator in any field—the most successful salesperson you can be—you must not set quantitative targets, quotas, numbers, or percentages. No such “performance goals” whatsoever. None of that. Never! Those are results over which you have absolutely no final control.

37. Goals to improve your actions and behavior are the only valid goals, because they are the only ones you can control, and achieving those goals will see you through any negotiation and lead to all the “results” you desire. But concentrating on the numerical results as your goal is a terrible waste of time and energy. Think behavior. Forget results.

38. One of the characteristics of really successful negotiators is how swiftly and efficiently they shift from nonpayside activity to payside activity when the opportunity presents itself.

39. When you have the habit of setting as a goal only activity that you can accomplish and that is genuinely productive, you’ve taken an enormous step in your career.

40. Beware the seductions of nonpayside activity.

41. In the real world, the negotiation does not end when the papers are signed. In fact, tough corporate negotiators work under the presumption that contracts are easily broken, that this is just part of business.

42. I ask my students to make a commitment to daily, active self-examination and assessment and to monitor their behavior and emotions as they affect the negotiating process.

43. A negotiation is simply the effort to bring about agreement between two or more parties, with all parties having the right to veto.

44. In negotiation, “maybe” will bury you with wasted time, energy, money, and, the real killer, emotion.

45. The “yes” doesn’t really mean anything. It’s not written in blood. It’s just another word to deploy at the right time.

46. The quick “yes” may be designed by the other party to set you up, to build your neediness, to undermine your decision-making. Then it’s followed by the subtle “if,” “but,” “however,” “when,” or some other dangerous qualifier.

47. Offering an early “yes” is a reliable “tiger trick,” as I call it, used by polished negotiators taking advantage of weak win-win negotiators. It traps you in their cage. Shrewd negotiators use the “yes” trick all the time.

48. “Sure, Frank, we’re on board. We want to place the biggest order ever with Acme—50, 000 widgets.”

49. Then, one or two calls later, “I didn’t even bring it up, Frank. It seemed unnecessary. I’m assuming about a twenty percent discount at that volume. Is that what you have in mind?” Never fall for the quick “yes.” Assume nothing. Avoid the emotional roller coaster. Don’t get needy. Don’t “chase the results” that seem to be shimmering so invitingly right in front of your eyes.

50. Never take responsibility for the other side’s decisions. Never “save the relationship.”

51. The classic compromise mindset dilemma is this one: What can I give in order to gain or maintain this friendly relationship?

52. The impulse to think and act in any such save-the-relationship fashion is wrongheaded not only because it’s bad negotiating but also because the people across the table do not want to be your friend. They could not care less. They have not even thought about it.

53. For businesspeople and negotiators in any field, much more important than friendliness are effectiveness and respect. Nothing more.

54. Have you ever wondered how the jerks of the world get along? How some even get ahead? How more than a few even get to the very top? These people don’t get away with their boorish, offensive behavior for any good reason. They get away with it because they’re effective in their work and bring benefit to their business relationships, in one way or another.

55. What does friendship have to do with making good business and negotiation decisions? Not a thing.

56. Another reason people are afraid to say no is that they fear making the wrong decision. This fear of the wrong decision is one of the most debilitating emotions of all, burrowing deep beneath all aspects of decisionmaking, because it strikes a chord with our fear of failing.

57. How do you get rid of this fear? I’ll answer this question with another one: What really happens when you make a bad decision? There is a common saying among pilots: “Flying is a continuous string of decisions, most of them bad ones that must be corrected.” In training, pilots are told to just keep making decisions and pretty soon they will get it right.

58. To be effective decision-makers we must simply make the next decision, and then the next one, and then the next one. A negotiation is a series of decisions.

59.  Embrace “no” at every opportunity in a negotiation. Don’t fear the word— invite it. You do not take it as a personal rejection, because you are not needy. You understand that every “no” is reversible.

60. In any negotiation, your mission and purpose must be rooted in the world of the other side.

61. If you’re a salesperson, your mission and purpose is not about selling 10, 000 widgets and making $5 million. That’s in your world. It doesn’t benefit your customers at all. It’s also just chasing results.

62. In the broadest terms, a valid MP(mission and purpose) will effectively guide your decisions. It might well be about providing your customers with a dependable widget (if not the best widget in the world) that can sustain their company’s profitability well into the future, assuring their staying power and market share.

63. See the difference? The perspective in this statement is their world. You’re not chasing the results of your world, results you can’t even control, but you do have total control over the quality of your widget. You do have control over its pricing. You do have control over your mission and purpose. It belongs to you. It is yours to change as you see fit.

64. The process of building your own mission and purpose is straightforward. It requires dedication, but it is not rocket science. The key throughout the process is to think creatively, clearly, and completely about your business and your negotiation.

65. Pull out a sheet of paper or open a new document on your computerand list the features of what your company, your product, or your service does—or what you do. If you sell widgets, you will list their salient features regarding quality, durability, serviceability, industry reputation, and the like. Be creative. List anything and everything. If you’re the buyer of the widget, you are broadening the supplier’s market, increasing its sales, perhaps helping it unload inventory at certain times of the year. Keep going.

66. Take your time with this process. Work on your list for a while, put it down, and come back another day. When you’re reasonably confident that the list of features is complete, proceed.

67. Across from every feature on your list, write down the benefits of that feature for the other party.

68. The key here is to see clearly what you provide. What benefits are you offering that solve their problems and empower them for the future?

69. Every negotiation has more going on than immediately meets the eye. The idea here is to end up with a complete description and vision of the value for the other party that you’re bringing to the table.

70. Prioritize your list of features and benefits. What benefits do you see are most important for the other party in this negotiation? Again, immerse yourself in their world.

71. Now you’re ready to write your MP from the features and benefits on your final, prioritized list. Think in terms of your continuing task or responsibility (what you’re going to do, provide, supply, or create for the benefit of the other side) and your long-term aim (what you’re going to be, develop, or grow into long-term for the benefit of the other side).

72. My mission and purpose for this book is to provide you the opportunity to discover that if you engage in training and coaching of the “No” system, you can elevate your success in negotiation to very high levels. This will be accomplished by means of clear, concise writing that is easy to read and thought-provoking. The key word here is opportunity. My purpose is not to elevate your success regardless. That would be a performance goal over which I do not have control. I can’t be certain you’ll think about the principles in my system and apply them diligently, or that you will embrace training and coaching. I can only provide you with the opportunity to do so.

73. As you develop your own mission-and-purpose statement, keep in mind that all good MP statements are concise. All must be written.

74. In complicated, high-stakes negotiations, my clients write an MP for almost every phone call to anyone on the other side. No kidding.

75. Your mission and purpose can and perhaps should change. At first blush, this may sound completely contradictory to every previous point here, but features and benefits change, markets change, customers change, and when they do, your mission and purpose should change accordingly.

76. Perhaps the most powerful product of a mission and a purpose is the insulation it provides from debilitating emotions, especially neediness.

77. As a coach, I see people waste a great deal of energy and time on issues and questions that just don’t matter. “Did I get as much as I could?”

“Should I have done better?”

“How much did I leave on the table?”

“I hope I wasn’t too strong.”

“I hope I wasn’t too easy.”

78. Could that 18 percent discount have been 19 percent? As the buyer, you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking like that. Seventeen percent? As the seller, you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking like that. All you want to know is that the 18 percent, given or received, satisfies your mission and purpose.

79. The people on the other side are negotiating for their benefit, not for yours. This is self-evident but often overlooked, and it’s the reason your mission and purpose must be rooted in the world of the other side and bring benefits that solve their problems.

80.Mission and purpose creates, guides, and enhances vision. The vision of the other side drives the effective decision-making that leads to agreements.

81. In fact, vision drives just about everything you do. Before you decide to buy anything, sell anything, or sign anything, you have to have a vision. No vision, no decision.

82. Make no mistake about it. The most gullible shopaholics won’t buy a tencent trinket without some kind of vision of themselves or their children playing with this trinket, wearing this trinket, using this trinket, or appearing to be special because of this trinket.

83. No vision, no action. No vision, no decision. No vision, no agreement.

84. A VISION OF WHAT? In negotiations, you must have a vision of a current or future problem to be solved. It’s just that simple.

85. In every negotiation, the vision of the problem and the solution is what brings the negotiators to agreements.

86. Many people make the fatal mistake of thinking they can use their gift of gab or their nifty PowerPoint presentation or both to convince the other party with facts and figures to make the rational decision.

87. The intellectual information just throws a wet blanket on vision. It puts people into an analytical mode. You would be better off not talking at all than pounding away with all your facts and figures.

88. There is a crucial difference between seeing and understanding, and seeing must come first. We must see in a visceral way before we can understand in a rational way.

89. Since that day, Roger has understood completely the power of asking questions as a way of painting the vision for the other side, helping them see the issues for themselves.

90. You have to paint the picture that builds a vision that the other side can clearly see. A key way to do this—the simplest, safest way to do this—is to ask good questions.

91. The clearer the vision of the problem, the easier the decision-making process.

92. Plenty of healthy young people simply cannot be seduced into seeing their need for health insurance—it might be time to offer a friendly handshake and say farewell. Vision is that important. If you just can’t build it, you’re wasting your time in the negotiation.

93. Asking questions is a science and an art. The science is found in how you construct your question. The art is found in your tone of voice, your body language, and your remarks before asking your questions.

94. The good ones are led by an interrogative, not by a verb. “Who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” “how,” and “which”: These famous interrogatives are the safest questions in a negotiation.

95. The interrogative-led questions will paint vision that will move the negotiation forward without the pitfalls of verb-led questions. They don’t challenge the other party. They don’t put them on the defensive. They elicit information and build vision.

96. Consider the following set of verb-led questions juxtaposed with a corresponding set of interrogative-led questions. In every case, which is better?

  • “Is this the biggest issue we face?” versus “What is the biggest issue we face?”
  • “Is this proposal tight enough for you?” versus “How can I tighten this proposal for you?”
  • “Can we work on delivery dates tomorrow?” versus “When can we work on delivery dates?” or “How important are delivery dates?” or “Where do delivery dates fit in?”
  • “Do you think we should bring Mary into the loop now?” versus “Where does Mary fit in?” or “When should we bring Mary into the loop?” or “How does Mary fit into the picture?” “Is there anything else you need?” versus “What else do you need?”
  • “Do you like what you see?” versus “What are your thoughts?”
  • “Does it fit into your needs?” versus “How do you see it? How does it fit for you?”
  • “Can you stay competitive without this machine?” versus “How can you stay competitive without this machine?”

97. Keep your questions short. Anytime a question has more than eight or nine words, you risk complication.

98. Another key is to ask one question at a time. Simple question by simple question, answer by answer, you will help the other side build their own picture of the issue.

99. “3+”(or “three-plus”), another important tool of the trade, is the ability to remain with a question until it is answered at least three times, or to repeat a statement at least three times. This is not an original idea. Anyone who’s ever taken a speech class knows the old rule: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you told them. One, two, three times. I first heard the equivalent of this rule many years ago from a friend in sales and quickly learned that his advice was good.

100. The pendulum needs to be near the middle—not too positive, not too negative. This is where the good agreements are found.

101. When the excitement builds, consider tapping the brake with a positive strip line. It can only help.

102.  When a negative mood sets in, consider acknowledging the fact with a negative strip line. Join the negativity and thereby invite the other party to join you, step back, and take a second look.

103. Be a blank slate. Work with the best possible facts and information, not with assumptions and expectations that are so often dead wrong.

104. If there is one classic maneuver played by many companies and shrewd negotiators in many businesses, this is it: Build positive expectations with pie-in-the-sky numbers, then start in with the ifs, ands, and buts. This gambit is extraordinarily effective when the customer is a big company and the supplier a smaller one.

105. Neither positive nor negative expectations have any place in your work. You blank-slate and you negotiate, that’s all.

106. Take great notes. In seminars, meetings, and negotiations, I can quickly identify the most successful people around the table. They are the ones listening closely and taking notes, effectively silencing their own thoughts and learning as much as they can about everyone else.

107. One of your best ways to blank-slate and control your own emotions, first, and then perhaps influence their emotions, by your example, is with the simple tool of taking notes. 

108. Throughout this book you’ve seen how negotiators use hints of big purchases, permanent alliances, and the like to set up naïve negotiators with neediness and positive expectations.

109. The failure to find the decision-maker is a mistake I have seen committed umpteen times in all sorts of negotiations. At best, it means a waste of time, energy, and money. At worst, it means a failed negotiation, perhaps unnecessarily.

110. You can get around your basic blocker in several ways. One way is simply to start at the top. What happens if you start at the top? The top boots you down the ladder to a blocker, but this is fine, because, presumably, you’ve been introduced into the blocker’s territory with a stamp of approval.

111. Start at the top and you will be in a position to report to the top.

112. Each and every communication in a negotiation requires an agenda—and not just meetings where you’re sitting across the table from the other side.

113. You have some kind of purpose for every phone call and e-mail to anyone on the other side, right? I hope so. Well, what is it? The agenda makes this clear. The preparation of each agenda helps you see the negotiation clearly and assign

114. A good agenda will tell what to do next, how to keep your negotiation on track, how to continue making effective decisions, and how to keep your emotions at a calm, normal level.

115. A valid agenda has the following five basic categories.

• Problems - For purposes of agenda, a problem is anything you believe needs addressing —anything you see that is holding you back or blocking you from a successful conclusion.

• Our baggage - My guess is you’ve never made an agenda that included baggage, the collected life experiences and observations that all of us carry around in our lives and that may affect a given negotiation. Your Baggage Your baggage is some attitude you carry around that plays on your emotions and disrupts your decision-making. Say your company has recently acquired a reputation within the field, or within the community, for spotty bad service. This is nasty baggage. It must be addressed in an early agenda. That’s right. You bring it up, with two instant benefits. First, they’ll be surprised and impressed that you haven’t tried to hide the fact. Second, if unaddressed, that baggage puts you on the defensive for the entire negotiation.

• Their baggage - Their baggage is an educated guess on your part. You’ll be making an assumption dealing with baggage, and this is the only time an assumption is warranted. Maybe you’re wrong, but past history gives you good reason to bring it up.

• What we want - Too often people go into meetings not sure exactly what they want out of them. Your agenda solves that problem for you, because every agenda for every meeting, every phone call, every e-mail must have at least one “want.” No exceptions. The “want” requirement for every agenda requires you to think clearly about the whole negotiation—where it stands and what you want to happen next in order to move things along.

• What happens next - You must learn very quickly to take care of business by carefully negotiating “what happens next.” It protects you against assumptions. It’s a leg up on the next agenda. It’s simply mandatory.

116. Of all the issues in the negotiation that should be placed on an agenda but often are not, “wants” are supreme.

117. In the “No” system, the budget is much more than your normal itemization of projected financial costs, because the real price and the real costs in any negotiation go way beyond dollars and cents. Money is certainly part of the equation, but your budget must also take into account expenditures of time, energy, and emotion.

118. Along with money, they are the elements of a comprehensive budget that becomes another powerful tool for maintaining control and making good decisions in negotiation.

119. Here is the formula: “Time” has a value of 1x, “energy” 2x, “money” 3x, and “emotion” 4x. As important as time is, it is not as important as energy in negotiation, which is less important than money, which is less important than emotion.

120. As you monitor your own budget expenditure, you also monitor the expenditures of the other side. You want to keep your own budgets as low as possible while reaping the benefit of higher budgets on the other side.

121. Practically speaking, how do you drive up the other side’s budget and guard yours? Some budget-building ploys are transparent. The greater the investment in budget—time, energy, money, and emotion—the greater the commitment to stay the course and salvage something.

122. Protecting your time while pushing theirs can be in acts as mundane as adhering to a schedule that fits your calendar and not theirs.

123. In negotiation, the physically stronger, more energetic side definitely has the advantage. It’s a fact of life in this world. Know your own endurance level and conserve your energy.

124. Budget is yet another way for you to maintain control in negotiation. If your budget gets out of control, you cannot blame the other side.

125. A rock-solid faith in mission and purpose will be required in order to hold the line, but even then you simply may not have the budget to back you up in this negotiation. Know your actual dollars-and-cents budget, and have at least some sense of theirs. If you don’t have enough cash reserves for the long haul, your negotiation is, for all intents and purposes, over with before it even gets going, and you’ll lose not only the money but the time, energy, and emotion you have invested in a doomed cause. So don’t even get going. Seek your deals elsewhere. Say no right now.

126. If I were reading this book for the first time, I’d be asking one question right now: How do I bring together the principles of the “No” system? The answer is Checklists and Logs.

127. You prepare a Checklist before any meeting in any negotiation, any significant phone call, and any significant e-mail. After that meeting, phone call, or exchange of e-mails, you record all the significant information in your Log. You then use that Log to prepare for the next Checklist before the next encounter.

128. The basic Checklist for any negotiation includes:

  • Your mission and purpose for the negotiation  
  • Your agenda items for the specific meeting
  • Your behavior goals
  • Your activity goals
  • Any critical research that needs to be done

129. The Log prepared after any negotiation includes:

  • Statement of the problem from the other side’s point of view 
  • Estimate of the other side’s budget (time, energy, money, and emotion)
  • Identification of the decision-makers and assessment of when their decision will be reached
  • Negotiation summary

130. With the Checklist before the meeting, you set up the structure with which to build vision on the other side. With the Log after the meeting, you gather together the vision that exists at the end of the meeting, lay everything out, look at it, and find ways to build more vision and move ahead.