Skip to site content
The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Why People Tell You “No” (It’s Not What You Think)

Last week I asked someone at the store where the batteries were located. He smiled and said, “I don’t work here but I think they are in aisle 3.” Have you ever asked the wrong person for what you want? Probably. This is an example of the #1 reason that people tell you “No” – which is that you are asking for something that is inappropriate or something they can’t give you.

People worry about the wrong things when negotiating and asking for what they want. This discovery was one of the biggest surprises I had when doing research for my new book, Ask Outrageously! 

According to the responses of almost 1,200 professionals in a wide variety of fields, the top 3 reasons people think they are told “No” are:

  1.   The other person lacks the information needed.
  2.   The timing is wrong.
  3.   The person I’m asking doesn’t want to spend the money.

Wrong. None of these are the top reasons they are rejected.

The top three reasons respondents say they deny requests or say “No” are when the other person:

  1. Is asking for something inappropriate.
  2. Is someone I don’t like, respect or trust.
  3. Can’t respond intelligently to questions about the request.

To improve your chances of getting a “Yes” when you ask:

  • Do the research to determine if the person you are asking can actually grant your request.
  • Know and respect the other person’s preferred means of communication – text, phone call, email or in person.
  • Build trust with others by not gossiping, being on time for meetings and appointments, and using good manners.
  • Prepare yourself to respond to the person’s questions about your request. What questions would you ask if you were in their shoes? What information will they be comfortable sharing with you?  Think about objections they might have so you can help educate them if they arise.
  • Be crystal clear about your desired outcomes when making a request. Know what a win is for you.

Keep in mind that if you aren’t hearing the word “No” sometimes, then you probably aren’t asking for enough. More than one-third of people admit they have stopped themselves from asking for something they wanted. Later they learned that someone else successfully asked and was granted what they wanted.


About Linda Swindling, JD

A recognized authority on negotiations, workplace issues, and persuasive communication, Linda Swindling is an author and former employment attorney. Linda has authored or co-authored 18 books, including her new book Ask Outrageously! The Secret to Getting What You Really Want.  Follow her on twitter @LindaSwindling or visit