Why being told “no” is a good thing

  • 20th Jul'20
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When a mentee tells me they were told “no”, my first response is pride.  I’m proud that they asked in the first place.  I can’t tell you how many people don’t ask for what they need or what they want.  Leaders and bosses are not mind readers.  Therefore, it is best to ask.  I realize many people are afraid of rejection or being told “no”.   But in reality, getting a “no” actually allows you to move forward.

When I hear a “no”, I actually hear, “not now”.  My first job out of college was a sales rep for IBM.  Although many people chided me about taking a sales job after graduating from Wharton, I still believe it was the best experience for an aspiring CEO.  I learned early and often, that “no” was not the end of the world, or even the end of a sale.  A “no” meant the circumstances:  timing, terms, price, features, support, services, etc…, were not yet right.  My job was to determine how to make them right so that a “no” became a “yes”. 

When managing your own career the same is true.  Ask for the raise, promotion, flexibility, etc… that you need or desire.  If you receive a “no”, you now have the opportunity to question and understand why not.  The feedback you get gives you the roadmap of what you need to do to get to a “yes”.  Don’t accept a simple response such as the timing isn’t right.  Ask questions, professionally, until you understand what you need to do and/or what position the team or company needs to be in for you to get what you desire. 

If you don’t ask, you won’t get a “no”, but you will lose time and things will continue on in the status quo with your needs unmet.


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