Sometimes You Should Take No for an Answer

  • March 14, 2015

    il_340x270.651292019_f0a5Entrepreneurs are often told that they shouldn’t take no for an answer—and not just entrepreneurs. If you’ve ever worked in sales, you know that no is most typically interpreted as try again later. Accepting an answer of no is seen as a sign of weakness, or at the very least a certain lack of tenacity.

    But sometimes, no really is the right and final answer—and recognizing it as such can be helpful and valuable in its own right.

    Interpreting a No

    The tricky thing for entrepreneurs is recognizing when no is really a no, and when it’s best to push your luck. It can be helpful to consider the reasons why someone in your business circle might tell you no. Often, it’s seen as the simplest and safest answer. You might ask a supplier or a vendor to help you with something, and the answer might come back as a no because the vendor or supplier simply doesn’t want to go out on a limb to help you with an ambitious project.

    But that no may not be definitive. What you’re asking for may be wholly possible—and frankly, the best vendors are going to be the ones who will say yes even if they don’t necessarily see how the thing can be done. When there is a willingness to collaborate toward a yes, rather than dismiss an idea without even trying, that’s when entrepreneurs find their worlds opened up to all kinds of creative ideas.

    How Informed is the No?

    Something else to consider: Exactly how well informed is the no answer you receive? When you ask for something and the no is immediate, that suggests that not a lot of effort has been put into thinking through the different options and opportunities—so really, why should you accept no for an answer?

    But what if you ask for something to be done, and after a day or two you receive a thorough report detailing the reasons why your request simply isn’t feasible? This isn’t a cowardly or a casual no. This is a thoughtful one—so maybe it’s best to just accept it. It can be disappointing, yet that no can also have value. It gives you resolution, and allows you to move on to the next thing rather than getting hung up on something that really might not be possible.

    There may also come instances in which a no constitutes simple unwillingness—an unwillingness that is definitive and final. Sometimes a customer or a sales prospect will tell you no, and you need to accept it and move on rather than waste your time. It’s not about throwing in the towel, or wimping out. It’s about being reasonable and making the best use of your time.

    And again: That’s the value in a no answer. A no always gives you information to work with, and in some cases even a sense of resolution. You just have to be careful in how you interpret the no answers you receive.

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