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No, No, No!

Published: Sep 15 , 2016
Author: Alan Smith


"No" has emerged as an early contender for the least popular word in the English language, as Oxford Dictionaries ran a global search to find the least favourite English word.

Starting what it hoped will be the largest global survey into people’s language gripes, the dictionary publisher was inviting English speakers all over the world to answer a range of language questions under the One Word Initiative starting with the quest to find the least popular English word.

Oxford Dictionaries was hoping that tens of thousands of people would contribute, enabling it to put together a list of the least popular words by country, age, and gender, and revealing similarities and differences around the world. Many did before it had to pull the survey down due to the introduction of votes for what I can only describe as inappropriate words!

Before that more than 8,000 people had already submitted words to the poll, with "moist" topping the list, followed by "no", "hate", "like" and "can’t".

Now personally I like the word "moist". No idea what people are going on about. A lovely moist cake or Christmas turkey dinner. Marvelous.

Cognitive psychologists say that words are disliked for one of three reasons: the sound of the word, the connotations that it has or some form of social transmission that the word is unpleasant.

I suspect that the third points to the reason why people do not like the word "no"!

"No" is such a tiny little word. It has only one syllable and two letters. How strong could it be? The word "no" is a roadblock. It can derail ideas and create doubt. If you hear it one time too many, you might end up having to rethink your entire life. We hate no because it puts our plans or proposals on hold, stops all of our plans.

But maybe "no" is not a problem at all. Indeed, as a professional negotiator, I have no dislike of the word at all. In many situations I welcome the other side using it.

Think about it.

You pitch a project, plan or budget and the other side says yes straight away. They snatch your hand off the table. Have you really got the best deal you can? Suspect not.

If they say "no", great. I have started in the right place. I then have to craft, adjust, add value to my proposal in a way that starts me on the journey to yes.

Learn to love "no", it may even become one of your favourites.

Alan Smith


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Alan Smith

About the author:

Alan Smith
My background is marketing and advertising. After graduating in Economics I entered the agency world to become, at 28, MD of London's largest independent below-the-line marketing provider.

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