The Power of NO

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“NO”:  How much Power does this word contain?

Sometimes, even our best pitches don’t get the response we want. “NO” is a great teacher.  As Michael Neill says in his book Supercoach, making it OK to say “NO” gives us the opportunity to be open to new learning and new information.  That is, if we can keep from getting furious about not getting our way.

A negative response is an enormous CLUE from your listener.  While you may view a negative as discouraging news, consider it an informational bulletin.  “No” is a message that class is in session.  Pay attention!  When you hear a “no”, it’s your turn to say, “Tell Me More…”  Find out why your pitch is not a fit.  You could find that you can adjust your solution to the lesson at hand, if you listen to any objections and can correct your approach.  “No” really means:

  • You are about to learn more about something crucial to your pitch: listen closely!
  • There’s something you’ve left out.  What is it?
  • There’s a hidden concern or agenda that you have failed to address.  What is it?
  • Your solution may not be a fit.  So: What is?
  • If the listener’s expectations are unrealistic, even a genie or Kris Kringle can’t help you.  You have to have a clear definition of success, based on the solution you can provide.

Learn what you can.  Address what you can fix.  Understand that not every pitch is a fit for every situation.  Finding the right situation is sometimes a process of education. Ultimately, if your pitch is not a fit for your listener, you need to walk away with a greater understanding of why your solution is not a fit – so that you can be better prepared for the next conversation.

“But,” I can hear you thinking, “if they say no, my [invention won’t get made/ I won’t get the sale/the screenplay gets put on the shelf/we can’t produce the CD]!  How can I be OK with NO, when what I want is ‘YES’?”

No Way

The SignpostFirst of all, being “OK” with “NO” doesn’t mean that you work towards it.  It doesn’t mean that you celebrate “NO” with a small office party, a parade, or even an extra cup of coffee.  Do not expect a negative response, but PREPARE for it.   Being prepared means that you learn from “NO” so it doesn’t derail your elevator.  Like a signpost that says, “Turn right here.”

“NO” can mean “not now.”  “NO” can mean, “not here”.   “NO” can mean, “not for us.”  Think of “NO” as a detour to yes.   It’s up to you to find out what where “NO” leads you; it’s up to you to assign meaning to a negative response.

How do you handle rejection?  Is rejection an outcome, or a state of mind?  What’s the best way to cope with an unexpected (negative) response?

Signpost image courtesy of ell brown, used under creative commons.  Some rights reserved.

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