Get to No First

When dealing with a difficult situation or a challenging conversation it’s tempting to find agreement quickly. Agreement is not the goal.

The goal is understanding why there’s a difficulty.

To achieve this goal, you must get to no first.

Make it the first aim in your conversation to uncover the objection, which often sounds like:

  • “I don’t think this is what we should be doing.”
  • “This program isn’t working for my students.”
  • “No, I think the scores mean this.”
  • “No one told me that this was expected of me.”

It’s immaterial whether you think the objection is justifiable or an empty excuse. The material matter is that you can understand the objection, and lead with questions to communicate empathy.

But don’t misunderstand what leading with empathy is.