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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Turning "No" Into Something Else

I once supervised someone who struggled a great deal with self-confidence. The moment I would express any doubts about an idea this person proposed, I'd hear a loud exhalation reminding me of the sound a punctured balloon makes. If I later tried to re-visit the idea, I would hear something like "But you already said 'no' to that!"

The word "no", real or imagined, has also stopped me many times in my life. But supervising that person who heard no, even when I knew I hadn't said it, helped me learn something important. I started making an attempt to hear any no as "not right this moment, but please return later". Or... "not the way you suggested but please suggest another way". I began treating no as temporary rather than permanent. Persistence became more than just "try, try again" when I turned no into something else.

Because of this shift, I began finding rejections of any kind stung a little less. I also realized that if circumstances or people had changed since the first time I heard no to something, my chances for breaking through the next time improved even more. I'm sure you have ideas how to turn no into something else; please share them with me.

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