Say “NO” with Ease and Grace


From the time we are born, our lives are defined by YES, NO or the indecisive MAYBE in between. YES, you can do this or NO, you can’t. Parents were very clear on what was YES and what was NO. We had our feelings hurt when someone said on the playground, “NO I don’t want to play with you.” or perhaps someone you were hoping would say YES, just turned their back to you, a form of non verbal NO. YES, NO, and MAYBE often operate below our surface awareness in the unconscious mind.

The word NO gets a bad rap as a negative word because this word, standing alone, is a word so strong it can stop aggressive dog, or dismiss a sincere request. The truth is… NO has been a pretty good word in our lives for distinguishing what we find acceptable, reasonable or relevant. If there was not a NO everything would be a YES or a MAYBE which would be exhausting and cover up  or subvert our best life intentions. My own experience is that saying YES to everything spreads us too thin. Just imagine if you said YES to every turn at every intersection. You would soon be lost.

Consider the Real Estate agent who agrees to do an open house for a builder every Sunday, even though family time is a high priority on weekends. Later, the spouse says, “why didn’t you tell them NO?”. The reasons are plentiful, the agent may not know how to say no and be concerned about what other agents would think, or feel guilty about not pleasing the builder. Sometimes we are wobbly on where our priorities are, so we just say YES so we don’t feel uncomfortable. NO is a word that can bring about some anxiety. Even worse is the cloudy MAYBE which leaves people hanging.

Saying NO is an art form and is something that takes courage. Once you learn different ways to say NO that still honors people and leaves them in a good place, you have developed a valuable skill set. Enter the philosophy and language of NLP ( Neuro-Linguistic Programming).

In all situations you would want to start with, “Tell me more” or “What’s important about that?” before you automatically go to NO.

Let’s look at four situations in Real Estate where you might want to say NO:

  1. The overpriced listing- “My house is worth $50,000 more than the others”
  2. The difficult seller- “Will you do an open house every Sunday?”
  3. The buyer who is not respectful of your time- “Can we see this house in 15 minutes?”
  4. The client who is asking for commission reduction-” Will you do me a favor?”

Assuming that you have already asked a lot of open ended questions, and you are clear that you want to say NO, let’s look at some more elegant ways to say NO rather than something like “NO, any other questions?” which could fire up their Monkey Mind.

Gather up your courage and let’s look at a few NLP Language patterns that could help with the NO.

I’m Not Going To Tell You Pattern

I’m not going to tell you NO, the price is too high, but I am going to ask you to speak

to another agent who might support you at that price. You see, I’m not fully on board with it, based on the facts we have gone over.

Let me ask you this, if I said YES to your price, would you be willing to reduce the price in 30 days?

Yes, But Pattern-

“Yes, I can’t do an open house every Sunday, but I can put a marketing plan in action that is aggressive and successful.

And, if you are committed to getting your home sold, then you’ll naturally want to use the best method, can I explain?”

( One linguistic tool to remember here is that the word “but” negates any verbiage that comes before it. Notice the that pattern starts with a YES which opens up the unconscious mind.)

Because, Therefore Pattern with a Double Bind

Thanks for asking to see this house. Because I set aside family time from 6-8, it’s important to me not to disappoint my kids…and I definitely want to make sure you are taken care of, therefore…I can turn you over to another agent in my office OR, we can set up another time by looking at both of our schedules.”

Just say NO respectfully

I appreciate you asking, but respectfully I will have to say NO to taking a pay cut for the service I provide. You see, when I take a listing like yours, it deserves full exposure to the market to get top dollar, and I would do you a disservice  by not making you a priority. Does that make sense?

These are but a few of the language patterns you can use to create more ease when you have decided to say NO to a client. For more language patterns and insight, contact me at [email protected]


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About DonnaK

NLP Practitioner, Coach, and Real Estate Agent.
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