By Jim Camp – Adapted from his bestselling book, “Start with No”

Most of us have been taught that if we want others to cooperate with us, we have to compromise — that is, to getsomething, we have to give something. There’s a better way, however, to getting what you want: Start with NO. So, if your New Year’s resolutions include being more assertive, standing up for yourself, and reaching your goals, the “No” system can be your ticket to success.

Here are 11 ways to do it:


1. Start with NO.

Resist the urge to compromise. Instead, invite the other person to say “no” to your proposal. (Hint: Don’t tell him or her what it is — at least not yet.) The invitation to say no will earn you respect and remove all the tension from the discussion.


2. Dwell not.

Don’t dwell on what you want, or you’ll blow your advantage. Throughout the discussion, focus instead on the now — controlling your actions and behaviors in the moment.


3. Do your homework.

Learn everything you can before you begin. This way, you avoid surprises, whether you’re dealing with the boss, a car dealer, or your own teenager.


4. Identify obstacles.

Before the meeting, identify everything you can think of that might come up during the negotiation — your baggage and their baggage. If you don’t, you could walk into a minefield.


5. Expose the elephant.

Bring your problem, their problem, and anything else standing in the way of your agreement out into the open. Doing so clears the air, eliminates surprises, and gives you an edge.


6. Be like Lt. Columbo.

Let the other party feel superior to you. This is the “Lt. Columbo Effect.” Don’t dress to impress, name drop, use fancy language, lecture, or get on a grandstand. The more smug and confident they feel, the easier it is to get what you want.


7. Shift into neutral.

Neutral emotions, that is. Check all emotions at the door, and let go of any expectations, excitement, fear, anger, and neediness. An emotional blank slate keeps you balanced and alert.


8. Build your M&P around them.

Every negotiation, whether it’s a phone call or a formal business meeting, needs a mission and purpose. Your M&P is to help the other person see how your three or four top features will benefit them and help them achieve their goals.


9. Get them talking.

The person talking most loses the advantage. Ask great questions that begin with what, why, how, when, and where. Learn about his or her needs, requirements, hopes, fears, plans, position, and objectives so you can soon position yourself as the solution.


10. Solve their problem.

Help them see that giving you the deal you’ve proposed is to their advantage. Spend all of your time getting information about their world, the challenges they anticipate, and the problems they see — and then present yourself as the solution.


11. Don’t try to be friends.

The other party is not necessarily your friend. You’re not seeking loyalty or a long-term relationship from this negotiation. What you want, instead, is respect and a fair agreement that accomplishes your mission and purpose, and solves his or her problem.


Jim Camp is president and CEO of Camp Negotiation Systems, a negotiation training and management firm, and founder of J. Camp University, which offers Camp Method “Start with No” Credentialed Skill Courses to organizations and individuals who wish to develop professional negotiating skills. His bestselling business book, Start with No (Crown Business), has been translated into 12 languages. You can find out more at


Question: How have you benefited from saying NO?