NO or I Don’t Know. Which No/Know is More Powerful?

NO or I Don’t Know. Which No/Know is More Powerful?

There is power in saying NO. Guru’s preach that if we say that simple one-syllable word-NO-we will:

  1. Establish office and project boundaries quicker.
  2. Manage time more effectively. Be a more successful, productive sales or territory manager.
  3. Control or eliminate excesses like eating unhealthy foods, drinking excessively or smoking.
  4. Be happier, more contented and fulfilled.
  5. Avoid over-volunteering for activities. You’ll recognize this pattern if your community nickname is “The Always Go-to Soccer Coach” or “Fund Raising Chair Extraordinaire.”

Brick and mortar bookstores contain huge Self-Help sections. Amazon lists 1.5 million book titles containing the word NO. If there are so many resources available to instruct us on how to say NO, why are we unable or unwilling to say that 2-letter word?

I believe it has a lot to do with difficulty in uttering another phrase, “I don’t know”, which is usually followed by the phrase, “I want to talk it over with….”

Somehow or at some time in our cultural development, it became imperative to respond immediately to a request with either a Yes or a No. Delay in decision-making was unacceptable. We feared that decision delay was a sign of weakness. Maybe it was an indication that we didn’t control our own destiny, personal lives, service territory, company future or world peace.

Uttering the phrase “I don’t know, I’ll get back to you on that” was as challenging as watching a cat passing a hair ball.

As children, if we were smart, we relied upon the excuse “I’ll have to ask my mom or dad for permission.” We maintained peace at home and avoided punishment when we asked an authority for approval of a scheme or plan.

As adults, who is our go-to for counsel? We’re fortunate if we have someone to consult prior to decision-making. The title we use is not as important as that there is someone we go to for guidance.

We may refer to them as an adviser, coach, mentor, business partner, counselor, colleague, spouse and occasionally attorney. Their title depended upon the issue. The point is that we have someone to discuss a decision with before saying yes or no. For some of us, we refer to our guide as a higher-power.

There is another possible challenge on the way to “I Don’t Know.” It’s the ego, our sense of self-esteem, self-importance and personal identity. A strong ego is an asset but can be a liability if it overrides humility.

When the ego is strong enough to admit that Smart People Say I Don’t Know, you are on your way to more personal fulfillment and success.

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!   


Do the Rules of Right, Wrong and Honesty Still Apply to You?

Do the Rules of Right, Wrong and Honesty Still Apply to You?

I visited my hometown recently for my Aunt’s funeral.The funeral Mass was held in the Catholic Church our family has attended for over a century.

It’s the church in which my family had the priest baptize our new babies and the one from which we said our good-byes to loved ones as they went to “their final reward.”

Ghosts of my too-early-gone mom and dad, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins fill my thoughts as I sit in the second row surrounded by an aging family. We’re all aging. There are very few Redmond babies born to take our places.

In this Church, I learned about truth, honesty, respect and obedience. The payoff for good behavior came with rewards, recognition and gold stars on the Behavior Chart in the classroom.

As Catholics, not only did we learn about consequences for breaking the Ten Commandments, we also were drilled with facts about eternal damnation, Hell, Purgatory, Original Sin, Mortal and Venial Sin, Penance and the Seven Sacraments.

My parents raised us to understand that there were right and wrong actions. Taking toys from my brothers or sisters was wrong. The price paid for that evil deed was either a spanking or scolding.

However, my first big act evil deed was that of theft. I stole seven cents worth of candy from our neighborhood grocer, Mr. Hochman.

When Catholic children reach 2nd grade, they prepare for their first confession and communion. I knew that I would enter the confessional booth, kneel down and tell our parish priest, about all the broken commandments of a very bad girl of seven.

I was going to face the music. Pay the piper. Bite the bullet. Take my medicine. All those over-used idioms for making amends for wrongs done. In this case, the priest told me I had to pay Mr. Hochman back for the candy I stole. What I was relieved to know was that I did not have apologize to him, face-to-face. I could do it anonymously. The priest advised me to put the money in an envelope and leave it on the shop counter.

I feared that if I did not make restitution, I would go to Hell for all eternity. I certainly did not want to pay for my candy for eternity so I did what I was told. I slipped the money on the counter and ran out the door.

This experience made such a strong impression on me that I can still recall the creaky wooden shop floor, the huge cash register and how I stood on tip-toes to slide the envelope discreetly onto the counter before running home.

How do each of us learn what is right and wrong? For most people, we learn to be honest from our parents. Reflect back on your early lessons about honesty.

Do those rules still apply to you as an adult?

Mary Redmond is a top-rated female professional speaker, author, consultant and business coach.  She is a negotiation and body language expert that instills confidence, inspiration and expert knowledge that sets up her audiences for success!

Delighted to See Me? True Smile or a Hollywood Photo Op?

Mary-LisaFake-RealSmileEven though your client is smiling when you walk in the door, can you tell if they’re truly pleased to see you? When is a smile not a real smile?

It’s important to decipher when someone is pleased that you’re there or secretly hope your visit is brief and you are out the door fast.

Hollywood stars flash the pearly whites for the camera. How do you decipher someone’s sincerity? Some people mistake an expression in which the teeth are showing and edges of the lips are turned up as a smile, or at a minimum, a sign of friendliness.

Researchers have studied and analyzed smiles since 1862, when French scientist Guillaume Duchenne used electrical stimulation to attempt to replicate the facial muscle movements involved in a smile. A cruel way to research smiles, don’t you think?

More recent research reports that the part of the brain that controls true, happy smiles is the part of the brain that regulates emotion. Forced smiles come from the part of the brain that’s in charge of planned movements, not emotional responses. A fake smile requires someone to make a conscious decision to disguise authentic emotions.

There are 43 muscles in the face and at least 6-12 are used to smile or frown. The muscles work to make wrinkles around the eyes, plump up the cheeks and turn the edges of the mouth upward.

We smile for a variety of reasons; sometimes it is to express joy or happiness. However, sometimes we use a smile to hide discomfort, to react to pain, grief or disgust, or sometimes to show we’re sad. How can you really tell?

Seven Quick Tips to Spot a Real Smile

  1. Corners of mouth go up involuntarily with a true smile.
  2. When lips are tightly pressed together, even if the corners of the mouth are tilted upward, don’t be fooled. This is not a smile. It might even be a flash of anger.
  3. The forehead is relaxed. No wrinkle lines other than regular age lines are visible.
  4. Eyes have concave-up furrows or they may be fully or partially closed are involved in a real smile. That’s when the area under the eye gets puffy.
  5. No bottom teeth show. If they are on display, it’s a quick tip-off to a forced expression.
  6. The head may be tilted slightly towards the right or left shoulder. This opens up the neck and throat area. If we’re full of fear, we never expose the jugular vein.
  7. Red alert—a lopsided or one-sided smile usually indicates contempt, disgust, regret. Never mistake when the mouth is tuned up at only one corner and there is a slight flaring of the nostrils for a happy camper. Put up your guard.

Learn to recognize a real smile and you will do more business and have relationships that are more genuine.

Will a Handshake Offend Them?

Smiling Utiliity Workers Shaking Hands

Do you consummate a deal with a handshake? In the Western world, we use a handshake when we initially meet someone or greet a friend. We also shake hands when offering congratulations or expressing gratitude.

A handshake conveys trust, respect, balance and equality. All these traits are essential elements of a successful business relationship.
It sounds simple until we examine local customs, gender and cultural differences. Then it becomes more challenging.

It’s Complicated. Ten Sticky Situations

  1. Who offers their hand first and how long should a handshake last?
  2. Are strong, physical handshakes proper?
  3. Is breaking from the handshake first, a sign of weakness?
  4. What is proper if the individual is a Southern “lady,” or over the age of 80?
  5. What do you do if they do not have a right hand?
  6. Where do you put the left hand while shaking with the right hand? In South Korea and other Asian countries, keeping the left hand in the pocket while shaking with the right hand is an insult and is disrespectful. That’s enough to blow a business deal. America has a “casual culture” and some Americans think our way is the right way to do business.
  7. If they do not offer their hand when I extend my hand, what does it mean?
  8. What if they say, “I don’t shake hands? Hands spread disease.”
  9. When, does a knuckle bump replace a handshake?
  10. Where should my eyes focus while I shake hands?

We do not live in a Bubble
In raising these questions about handshakes, I hope to encourage everyone to consider learning how business is conducted in other countries. How do those unlike “us” conduct business? It is naive to think that the entire world uses the same method of greeting a colleague or  when consummating a business deal.

Three Tips to Better Business Behavior

  • Follow their lead. If they extend their hand first, do what they do.
  • Ask someone you know and trust who is from that country for tips and hints about what is proper. This is your best source for knowing the right thing to do at the right time.
  • Read a book on doing business in other countries. One that I often hear international business professionals recommend is Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway, published by Adams Media. This book attempts to cover business etiquette in 60-countries. However, it’s nearly impossible to be 100% accurate on this subject. I recommend that you consult a second source that specializes in the country you plan to conduct business in.

A “handshake mistake” may cost you a new customer, damage a critical negotiation or close doors to new markets. We cannot plead cultural ignorance any longer. Cultural Etiquette matters.

Must I KeepOn Keepin On?


Announcing Change! Irritating emails fill my Inbox. Memos cover my desk.

Take action now! However, the little voice in my head screams:
1. I’m tired of change.
2. Why can’t things stay the same?
3. This isn’t the way we used to do it.
4. I refuse to make more changes. I quit.

Sound familiar? It’s the curse of every employee and manager in the world. Escape is impossible. Change occurs at work, home, at our children’s school and in our place of worship.

I’ve accepted that despite protests, headaches and temper tantrums, change is inevitable.

Consider this your final warning! Accept change, and move forward or you’ll sink like the Titanic, clinging to the status quo boat anchor.

There is a lifeboat waiting. I reserved your seat. Join me. You’re invited to face Change!

The G-HOW Plan
Grateful: Acknowledge the good things, people and conditions in your life.
Honest: It is easier than making up lies and forgetting what you said.
Open: New experiences can be fun. Trust me here.
Willing: Temper tantrums at age 30 or 50 aren’t attractive.


  • No less than twice a day, give thanks for what you have and for what you don’t have. Those with an ex-spouse know what I mean.
  • Make daily entries in a Gratitude Journal.
  • Be grateful for your health, even if it’s not great. I have a friend fighting bone marrow cancer for the second time. She fills her Facebook posts with words of thanksgiving for family, friends, doctors, the sight of a butterfly in her garden and for the cardinal’s song as he perches near her window.


  • Be truthful in all communication whether it’s written, verbal or only in thought.
  •  Pause before responding, especially when angry or frustrated. Restraint is wise. No apologies to make later.

Remain open to new and scary experiences. Most of us fear that which we have not experienced. Remember, fear is an emotion like love or anger. It’s not a fact of life.

  • Face fear. Running away is no longer your preferred option.
  • Ask for help from those who’ve survived challenges.
  • Celebrate success and those pesky “learning opportunities” (formerly called failures).

Be willing to face fear, take action and live to share your success. When you suit up and show up prepared to face the day, you demonstrate willingness to move from the guaranteed present towards an unknown, untested future.

Courage is found at the intersection of Fear and Faith.


Neanderthal Negotiators! Not Extinct.

bulls 1

Bullies are alive and some live in Kansas. Bullies take no hostages and revel in unearned victories.

The Fearless Negotiator met her match in the form of a 250 pound, 6’6”’ car repair shop owner and his tow truck cave man accomplice.
The mission was to help get a friend’s car out of the repair shop following an accident. A friend and I entered the body shop, introduced ourselves and shook hands. That was the last cave man socially acceptable action that the two bully business owners took.

The negotiation goal was to get a tow bill explained and hopefully a slight reduction in an exorbitant tow and storage charge for a two-mile tow.

Within 30 seconds of our arrival, the two men proceeded to yell insults at us, threatened to call the police, pounded on their chests in a primitive behavior, strutting around the lobby while telling me to shut up when I attempted to ask a question. Additionally, their logic included suggesting that people of my type, were one of the primary reasons that the United States of America was in disastrous shape.

Two petite American females were contributing factors in ruining America for the loyal red, white and blue Neanderthals that strutted before us. I had no idea that my physical stature could so do much damage to the Free Enterprise System by attempting to get a copy of an invoice and receive an explanation for the tow charges.

Bullies are not rational nor do they approach a discussion in a logical manner. They may choose to forgo doing business with someone again rather than risk losing a negotiation, especially while they promote their position in front of an audience.  The body shop lobby confrontation had drawn a peanut gallery of tow truck drivers and mechanics who wanted to add their two cents with occasional laughs, snorts and grunts. For awhile the scene resembled a spectacle between four gladiators in the Roman Coliseum.

Tips When Facing a Bully Negotiator:

  1. Do the Homework First: Research the company you intend to negotiate with. If the opponent is a tow truck operator or body shop, consider watching Tow Truck War TV shows that deal in the world of vehicle towing. Know your opponent!
  2. Show No Emotion: Do not raise your voice, yell or use profanity. Bullies want a fight and love seeing their opponent love their composure.
  3. Avoid Physical Violence. This is a battle of the mind, not a street confrontation.
  4. Call Them On Their Game: Say, “Most people don’t find it necessary to raise their voice when speaking to me. I am interested why you need to do that.”
  5. Anticipate their Tactics: Address upfront, by saying, “I do hope that you’ll yell at me at least once during this conversation. If you don’t you will not live up to my image of people in your line of business.

Happy Ending?

I’d love to report that I reasoned with the two business owners and they understood my concerns. Or that they gave my friend a discount. Neither happened. The only method of payment they would accept was cash. No checks nor credit cards today at least not from the two people who could ruin the American way of life by asking for a discount.
We paid cash and got out before we were physically harmed. Sometimes it’s best to walk away. As Kenny Rogers sang in in The Gambler, You’ve go to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em and know when to walk away.

I am wiser today. If there is a next time, I will take someone who speaks Neanderthal.