I think most people would prefer to hear yes!
That's a common misconception. Let's take a look at the word no, and the power of no. What is no, really? What is it to you? Well, to the professional negotiator it's simply a decision, and it's a decision to be changed. But do you know what the really great pros know? And what I teach and coach? People gain comfort when they say no because it maintains a status quo. It's the safest decision your opponent can make. So no is nothing more to the professional negotiator than a decision to be changed.
So, if people say no because they're afraid of change, then the negotiator's job is to help them feel safe with the change?
Absolutely. Great negotiators seek the no because they know that's when the real art of negotiation begins. But you know, there's something else that's very interesting about the word no. When you give someone permission to say no to your ideas, the emotions go down; the effectiveness of the decisions go up; and they're allowed to really look at what you're proposing. They're allowed to hold it in their hands, to see it in their mind's eye, to turn it around. To try to envision all the different complexities that might come with that thought, that idea.
What do you mean by "the emotions go down"?
Well, think about how you feel when someone is pressuring you to say yes. You feel trapped. You feel frustrated. Or you find yourself looking for a compromise, because that's what you think you're supposed to do.
Now consider Webster's definition of "negotiation": "Negotiation is the human effort to bring about agreements between two or more parties with all parties having the right to veto." The right to veto is the right to say no. If you tell your opponent from the beginning that he is welcome to say no to your proposal, you will see him visibly relax. It's like giving a wild animal food through an open door. Soon it will be eating out of your hand, because it knows it can escape out that door at any moment. That's how you build trust in a negotiation. "No" lets you have your opponent where you want him — eating out of your hand.