3 Reasons Decision Makers Say ‘No’

Something people often forget to consider when planning an influence strategy are the reasons that decision makers might say no. There are several reasons decision makers deny requests no matter how compelling the pitch. Your job is to plan ahead for how to address these concerns so they don’t stand in the way of an otherwise great idea or proposal that you’d like to get the green light on.

Influence at work

Following are some of the common reasons decision makers reject influence attempts — and how you can plan for a “No” in order to get a “Yes.”

#1. Loss of Control, Power, Status, Resources

Some decision makers say no because they believe they’ll lose something such as control, power, status, or resources by agreeing to your influence proposal. When a decision maker’s need is to maintain or even gain more of what they don’t want to lose, they’re more likely to say yes when your influence proposal shows that no loss will take place.

What to do: Plan ahead by making sure you know what this person might stand to lose — or thinks they might lose — if your proposal is implemented. Create a work-around that will prevent that loss and include this as part of your influence presentation.

If you believe there will be no actual loss but a perceived loss, here are some examples of how to address that during the influence pitch:
Resource Issue: “We know that resources are a concern for your group. With this proposal your head count will remain unchanged. In fact, it may be possible to increase it by one or two this next quarter.”
Status or Power Issue: “With this proposal, there are no changes to your group’s interface with the managing director on this.”
Control Issue: “Everything that’s currently being managed by your team will remain in place.”

#2. Lack of Confidence or Trust in You

When you, your predecessor, your team, or your department have not met a decision maker’s expectations in the past, or when a decision maker isn’t convinced that you can meet their expectations now, you have your influence work cut out for you.

What to do: In these situations your influence plan should include ways that bolster the decision maker’s assurance that you can deliver. Be prepared to show proof of your track record, and come in with a solid, well-planned-out process for achieving the result. To put yourself in an even better position, ask one or two highly-respected opinion leaders to vouch for your work.

#3. No Reciprocity

There are those who expect reciprocity no matter what you’re asking from them, while others simply appreciate an exchange when it’s offered.

In the first instance, the decision maker may be the type who has a requirement, spoken or not, that you offer something in return whether what you’re asking is big or small. In the second instance, there’s no expectation of exchange, but offering something in return may be welcomed and appreciated.

What to do: Your being aware of the reciprocity factor is what’s essential. When you want this person to do something for you, you must be willing to do something for them in return, possibly of equal or greater value, even if they never ask you to.

These are just a few examples of why decision makers reject otherwise solid proposals. You can read more in my complimentary influence ebook for blog subscribers, and please feel free to share your own tips below.

Question: Have you found that planning ahead for a “no” helps you get a “yes”? Do you have any tips to share? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/travellight

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