When they say “NO”, they “KNOW”


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When a person says “yes” to everything, do you trust him?

Some months back, I met a contractor, Arun and asked him for a quote. This quote was for household work which was pending for years. I had been delaying this from my side but after seeing Arun’s quote it again went into cold storage. I told my wife that I am not convinced with this quote from Arun. I think he has quoted way higher than the market rate. Meanwhile I checked the rates with my friends.

When we could not put away the work any longer, we decided to visit shops and check out the rates. Our journey began with a flat tyre but we persisted. To our sheer surprise we understood that Arun’s rates were very high. So instead of giving the entire job to one person we decided to divide the work into three parts and give it to three people. Over the next few days, we managed to meet them. We invited them to see the work at home and give us the estimate. All three came across as very energetic and I enjoyed the energy levels which they generated.

When I went into the details of each of the jobs, each one started rejecting some ideas which I had in mind. They spoke from their experiences and I noticed that they all categorically turned down many of our ideas and said it is not possible to do this job. Initially we were taken aback as Arun had said  “Yes” to all the jobs and maybe that’s why he was charging a premium. We decided to seek more clarity on why all three  were saying “NO”.  We went deep into the various areas of these jobs and they made us realize the constraints in doing the job and its ill effects.


Sarvanan who did our tiles shared from his experience some work which  had not gone well in the past and they had to discard the whole work. I liked his frankness and humility to accept that he made mistakes and this transparency caught my attention and I decided to trust him and immediately decided to go ahead with the job.

Next was Prabhu, he was very confident and even though I was pushing him to complete painting job in 3 days , he  said No and told that he will do his best. The virtue I noticed about Prabhu was his open mindedness and his ability to say No upfront when it came to doing the job in 3 days.

The third person Anil who did a wooden panel work was very optimistic but mentioned clearly that he has not done this kind of design before. He also shared his No’s with us on the design ideas. We kept the job with him as he  showed and displayed some good skills while taking measurements and challenged our thinking.

I was contrasting these three with Arun who said YES to everything and was demanding a large advance. An immediate lesson is ” If anyone is saying ” YES” to everything then you better be worried”. With the three we encountered lot of “NO’s” and we finally gave our YES. In my wife’s words, “When they say “NO”, they Know” and she added that “People who say “NO” a lot “KNOW” a lot. 




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