If you look at the trajectories of some of history’s most successful people, there’s one thing they all have in common: failure. Everyone from Bill Gates to Steve Jobs to freakin’ Walt Disney had to hear the word “No” plenty of times before becoming the inspirational innovators and titans of industry they’re known as today. What sets them apart on their path to greatness? They didn’t let rejection discourage them from chasing their goals. Whether you’re pitching a proposal, applying for a job, or seeking funding for your startup idea, it’s best to be prepared for the roadblocks. But if there’s one lesson to be learned, it’s this: if you’re dedicated enough, a “No” can always lead to a “Yes.” Even if it may not feel like that in the moment.
Read on to learn how you can start opening the doors of opportunity, even after they’ve seemingly been slammed in your face.
1. Do Not Be Afraid To Hear “No”
As author, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker Bo Bennett says, “A rejection is nothing more than a necessary step in the pursuit of success.” The most basic way to deal with hearing the word “No” is to not be afraid of it, lest you become too fearful of failure that you simply give up. Remember that in the professional world, the word “No” is hardly ever personal, so don’t take it to heart. And, more importantly, don’t let it stop you from trying again.
2. Consider Whether Or Not It’s Actually A “No”
If you’ve done your homework and are approaching an opportunity that seems like the right fit but you have still been shut down, consider the factors that may be influencing the outcome. Perhaps that “No” has more to do with the way you presented yourself or your idea. Or your head space heading into the meeting — were you rushed? Did you complete your routine that morning? Are you in integrity? These are all things that are within your control and can be powerful learnings for you to implement for future conversations with the help of accountability tools like Inner.U’s Promise Tracker, that helps you to build and grow your Personal Integrity®.
3. Ask Questions
In the most respectful of ways, refuse to take “No” for an answer. We don’t mean pestering, but in order to learn what’s stopping your target from saying “Yes,” inquire and care about the obstacles they’re seeing. Is it an issue with the budget? Are there no new job opportunities presently available? Was there something you didn’t explain clearly enough? Ask questions in a genuinely curious manner that seeks to evolve from the learnings you gain through this experience.
In fact, studies show that a majority of customers say “no” up to four times before saying “yes,” so in many cases that’s not necessarily their final answer. Let’s face it, saying “no” is easier for most people than putting the work into exploring the “maybe.”
4. Really Listen
Speaking of questions, when you’re asking them, really listen to the other party’s answers. According to Tyreek Moore, Executive Life Coach with Handel Group® and President of HG Sports, listening fully is key to any hard conversation. “Listening without adding judgement, reaction, or making it about you is an extremely powerful skill. If you just keep reflecting back what the person has told you and taking it in, the speaker will dig into deeper layers of truth before your very eyes (even through a Zoom call).” Then, you can use these learnings to put in promises and plans to refine your pitch in future.
5. Offer Flexible Solutions, Pivot
Once you’ve heard what’s holding your target back, you can offer up solutions. Have an open mind and be flexible in a way that allows you to work with them in order to meet not just your goal, but theirs too. Look for the win-win opportunities. Use language that is collaborative rather than combative. Moore offers, “What we have learned is that every good conversation has a balance of grace and wisdom. The wisdom part is saying the thing you need to communicate: the question or the request. The grace part is the way it’s communicated so that it’s easy to hear.”
And sometimes there’s just no going around the obstacles, even after you’ve presented solutions. This doesn’t mean the conversation has to end. In the immortal words of Ross Geller: “Pivot!” If this really is your dream company or client, get curious about other projects or opportunities. Expand the horizons of the conversation and you may find a new way forward, whether it’s in the future or from a different angle.
6. Preemptively Address Their Concerns
Practice makes perfect, even when it comes to rejection. As you gain more experience from the times you’ve been told “No,” you’ll be able to identify the potential reasons someone might say it – and you can use that knowledge to your advantage. When seeking an opportunity, preemptively address the problems the other party may point out and explain how or why those won’t be an issue. Being prepared for their objection allows you to remain in control of the conversation and immediately dispel any of their concerns. Once the negatives are out of the way, you can focus on showing them the positives. That’s a surefire way to get the “Yes” you’ve been waiting for.
7.Consider This: A No Was Never Meant To Be A Yes
Stay with us here…what if every no was sacred? If every ‘no’ got you closer to your ultimate ‘yes’. It’s an empowering position to take, and could be the trick to overcoming each “rejection”, shifting you into the right fight and putting power back into your hands.
Navigating a tough conversation where you might be faced with a ‘No’ effectively and powerfully takes practice and, well, more practice. Inner.U CAREER teaches you how to have difficult conversations with everyone in your professional life, using twenty years of proven experience teaching CEOs, executives, parents, students and artists the art of honesty, because when you dare to tell the truth to someone and then want to hear their truth in return, that’s where intimacy, teamwork, leadership, and productivity lives.
Learn to Human Better® and turn yes’ into no’s with Inner.U CAREER.