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The Power of No


I’ll bet when you woke up this morning, you didn’t expect to absorb pearls of business wisdom as learned from Meghan Trainor’s current billboard #3 pop hit, “No”. 

While not exactly a modern day Thoreau, she quips “No!” 67 times by my count (feel free to verify, as I refused to double check).  The basis of the song is Trainor’s character dancing with her girlfriends at a club, and articulating a strategy to thwart would-be male dance partners. 

But, not to be lost in the subtlety of her musical prose (note my intended sarcasm) is the impact this rejection likely has on hopeful suitors!  Every time she issues a blunt rejection, it can (and often does) heighten perceived desirability.  It’s also beautiful in its brevity and clarity.  And herein lies the analogy.

No Heightens Demand – Unexpected rejection does funny things to people.  Many times, it makes people perceive whatever it is you have to offer as being even more desirable than before.  If your ‘No’ was delivered due to unfavorable terms, perhaps it’ll spur a counteroffer and a ‘Yes’. 

No Brings Focus – Business leaders are pulled in so many different directions.  Lost in a sea of requests we are well intentioned to fulfill are the things they actually need to accomplish to advance their organizations.  Saying ‘No’ to less immediate or critical asks will help bring focus to the things that are truly important. 

No Draws Boundaries – Turning down a potential customer because the revenue opportunity isn’t aligned with your company’s core value proposition is a great way to let the internal team and external market know what you do and don’t do.  This again, allows for more focus on what really drives value.

No Communicates Self-Awareness – Whether business or personal, saying No can be a clear statement of self-awareness.  This is who I am and what I’m all about.

My wife and I have two young daughters at home, and so pop dance tunes tend to get extra playing time.  Maybe I’ve listened to this one a few too many times.  But maybe the next time you hear it, instead of skipping to the next track, you’ll contemplate the Power of No.

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