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Why I Stopped Saying 'No' and Started Asking 'How?' Start replacing "no" with "how" to improve effective communication in any relationship

By David Meltzer Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


How many times a day do you say no? Why do you say no in the first place? Most people will tell you they respond with "no" because of laziness, fear of failure or a lack of spare time. In reality, there is almost always a better solution than just saying no.

You don't always have to say yes to everything, of course. However, next time someone asks for help or requests you do something, try responding instead by asking them, "How?" Rather than giving off the impression that you don't care or that you are not helpful, this will instead demonstrate your willingness to try and troubleshoot the issue to make someone's life easier. This small adjustment is a simple approach to improve effective communication in any relationship, regardless of whether it is personal or professional. "How?" creates opportunities, while "no" tends to end them.

Related: 7 Mental Shifts That Allowed Me to Become a Millionaire at 22

Connect up and out.

In order to establish effective communication, we need to connect in two directions: upwards and outwards. First, we need to "connect up" to what inspires you. Whether you are inspired by God, Jesus, Buddha or something else, the important thing is to connect to something which pushes you to be your best and encourages others around you to do the same. When you are connected to something that is larger than yourself, it raises your awareness of your emotional and mental well-being, and therefore allows you to communicate more effectively. Take some time to figure out what your inspiration is. It will pay off down the road by increasing your ability to become attuned to your senses.

We not only need to effectively communicate upwards, but we also need to focus on communicating outwards as well. We interact and work with so many people on a daily basis in order to achieve our goals, so it is incredibly valuable to learn how to be effective in your efforts among your team, peers and family. Even failing to connect with one of these groups can be a big detriment to our success and happiness. We need to connect to others around us and get aligned in order to share a vision, creating a powerful collective belief.

Related: How to Become a Millionaire by Age 30

Get out of your way.

Often times, we get in our own way when it comes to connecting with others. We forget about gratitude, empathy and accountability and instead limit our own potential. The biggest catalyst causing people to get in their own way is when they automatically respond to a question by saying no without thinking. Next time you are about to say no, consider asking "how?" instead and see what type of response you get. There may be solutions to a problem that you might not have thought of or you could be able to settle on a middle ground that still provides some sort of help to the person who came to you. Chances are, your interaction will be much more positive.

"How?" creates possibilities.

One of the best examples of putting this idea into action is a kid wanting a luxury car as his first car. Thousands of kids ask their parents for a car that is out of budget and not practical. The teenager usually gets a pretty quick answer: "No."

Related: 25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Consider what might happen if parents respond to their teenager, "How can we make this happen?" That child is going to respond in one of two ways. He will either quickly realize the improbability of earning enough money to purchase the car on his own or start thinking about the steps necessary in order to accomplish his goal. This minor adjustment in a parent's response to such a request opens up so many possibilities when someone truly is inspired; possibilities turn into probabilities. Then, when we take appropriate actions accompanied by strategy, discipline and awareness, those probabilities can become a reality (even if it's getting a six-figure car as an 18-year-old).

How -- it works

Saying no is a surefire way to prevent yourself from tackling challenges and testing your potential. When people ask us for help, we need to ask, "How can we do it?" This is why effective communication is so important when trying to get what we want in life and business. Connecting up to that which inspires us and communicating outwards in order to inspire others enables us to accomplish our goals and our dreams. One simple question, "How?," is the key to communicating effectively and getting out of our own way.

David Meltzer

Co-Founder of Sports 1 Marketing, Speaker, Author and Business Coach

David Meltzer, co-founder of Sports 1 Marketing and host of Entrepreneur's podcast, “The Playbook”, is a Top 100 Business Coach, global public speaker and three-time international best-selling author who has been honored by Variety as “Sports Humanitarian of the Year”.

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