In a recent article Saying "No" to an Idea Doesn't Have to Lead to Conflict, Patrick Mullane, Executive Director, HBX speaks about ‘No’ and the struggle we face in the business world.

There are two very common situations when dealing with No.

First, In every organization you have what John Kotter states as the ‘no,no penguin’, someone who shoots down every idea or thought that can aid to progress, solve a problem, or lead to change. 

Second, are the people who don’t know when to say ‘No’ because of the chance there might be a disagreement or confrontation. Too many times it is easier to avoid confrontation by saying 'yes' and in the competitive world that we live in today, we are always looking to seek approval from our bosses, peers, and family members.

What if we look at the word ‘No’ in a different light? In some cultures ‘No’ isn’t even a part of the vocabulary.

Disagreements and Confrontation, can be very healthy when using the right tools and techniques. Provocative debates can lead to constructive feedback, positive progress, and meaningful change...if you don’t provoke how do you progress...


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When we give constructive feedback we open up a dialogue, we can start to understand people’s thought process so that we can communicate more strategically, leading to more cooperative and efficient conversations. 

How is this done? I always fall back to the Golden Rule "do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We all want to be heard in some way or another, so why don't we listen? When you can accept someone’s thoughts, opinions, and views you are merely giving them what you want. Does that mean you need to agree? No...however it is this acceptance that provides the gateway for them to actively listen to your opinion and provides the basis for a more constructive conversation.