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Start With YES … Even If It Doesn’t End That Way

It’s time to revisit the idea of avoiding the word “no,” but this time, I want to approach it from a different angle. First, let me tell you about my friend Dr. Nido Qubein, a devoted husband and father, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, president of High Point University, and mentor to many, who came to this […]

Empowering leadershipIt’s time to revisit the idea of avoiding the word “no,” but this time, I want to approach it from a different angle. First, let me tell you about my friend Dr. Nido Qubein, a devoted husband and father, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, president of High Point University, and mentor to many, who came to this country when he was 17 with little more than $50 to his name. Almost 50 years ago, he attended High Point University, never dreaming that one day he would be president of the institution, a position he accepted in 2005. 

Since that time, there has been incredible growth at HPU. In his first year, the university had about 1,400 students enrolled on the 91-acre campus. Today, there are almost 6,000 students, including 623 graduate students. The campus has grown to more than 500 acres, includes 128 buildings, and is considered an elite university.  

If you Google “Nido Qubein,” you will see a list of accomplishments that give insight into this man’s extraordinary career. As mentioned, he is a mentor to many, and even as a friend, I am among those who consider him a mentor. I’ve learned much from his willingness to share the lessons he learned from his successes, and today, I want to share a simple lesson we might all want to consider, which has to do with the word no. 

If you’ve been following my work, you know I’ve written several articles about avoiding the word no. Christine Trippi and Cameron Mitchell have been featured in The Shepard Letter and in my videos discussing the topic. This time, I give you Nido’s perspective, and even though he’s not talking about customer service or customer experience, it ties in perfectly. 

Nido recognizes that when someone new steps into a leadership role in any type of organization, authenticity and listening skills are of the utmost importance. People can be skeptical. He says, “I always start with a yes. It doesn’t always end that way after we’ve done the study, but a lot of people start with no.”  

I love this idea. When our customers ask us for something or they have an issue, starting on a positive note, such as finding a way to use the word yes from the start can help guide the conversation in the right direction. This is what it looks like: 

  • “Yes, I understand.”  
  • “Yes, that’s a great idea worth considering.”  
  • “Yes, you do have a problem, so let’s see what we can do about it.”  
  • “Yes, that is a possibility. Let’s look at the situation more closely.” 

Nido’s simple leadership lesson is also a powerful customer service lesson. When a customer comes to you with a problem or issue, you are in a leadership position. You are empowered with authority to help the customer. Saying yes is not about giving in. It’s about using the right word at the right time to create a better customer experience.

Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at www.Hyken.com. Connect with Shep on LinkedIn.

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