As knowledge seekers or even just simple humans with mundane activities, no is a very familiar word, a daily occurrence. We often react badly to it, however, one must realize that hearing no either means you approached the wrong person or you ought to make changes to your proposal.
I was recently with a team conducting a vox pop, in our quest for interviews we encountered different people and no became a very familiar word to us, which we quickly learnt to overlook.
During this project, I came to realize that there are different ways people say no. In this article I have categorized them into four groups;
The Mild No:
These people are often apologetic and would give concrete reasons to why they said no. They are the ones you can rely on for constructive criticism.
I remember one man in particular who listened to our request for an interview, looked very interested in the topic, made comments but eventually said; “I’m sorry, I don’t have the time to grant an interview but I like what you are doing, why not include your social media audience as well? It’d make for great feedback.”
He was so nice in his letdown that we hardly realized he was doing so, meanwhile, I thought, “All the while he was asking us questions he could have just granted us an interview.”
The best way to deal with this form of no is to work with the constructive criticism, consider the worth of each suggestion before working on it and be thankful for the advice you’ve gotten. Do not dwell on the no!
The Aggressive No:
Ever just met someone so angry and you wonder, “What exactly is this person’s problem?”
Yeah, well, those kinds of people fall under this category. They are usually uncouth, insulting and derogatory. Some of them lack self-respect and would not hesitate to embarrass you (alongside, themselves) over minor issues. With them, a disagreement turns into an argument and a no can never be said simply.
As much as we try to avoid negative situations sometimes life throws them at us, therefore, the best thing to do is brush it off. What does a dog do when water is poured on it? It shakes it off! Imagine you are the dog and the no you are faced with is the water!
Read this too – Brene Brown on Using Regret as a Tool for Growth
The Evasive No:
Oh my, my, my! Don’t I just love this group? They are vague; postponement and procrastination are their names. You can never pin them down, quote them or get concrete answers from them. They revel in stringing you along. If you are seeking a career in puppetry then they are your best bet.
You must have encountered them before! Do these phrases sound familiar? “Come tomorrow”, “You’ve not gotten my email? I will send it immediately!”, “I’m really busy right now, please call me later, I will let you know then.”
If they do and you’ve still got no results then you are playing to the whims of someone who will never give you an answer. You will be strung along for eons. It makes one wonder, “Is it that hard to say yes or no?”
The evasive no’s are the worse kind because you never really know where you stand with it. You make no progress but there are hopes for prospects. Eventually, it will drain the life and creativity out of you.
Try not to play along with these people, as much as you can avoid it. And please exit the scene as graciously as possible once the red flags are up to the possibility of never getting an answer. Do not yield to anger or bitterness, which will only be damaging. Rather, move on to the next thing and chuck the experience as a feather on your cap. You never know, you might need it someday to avoid falling into a similar trap!
These no’s are often said without a word but you’ll get the message loud and clear. People that give deadpan no’s will hardly acknowledge your request; they do not bother with evasiveness because they just can’t be bothered.
Just like the evasive no’s, you are often left wondering where you stand with them and asking if you did something wrong. The answer is, you did nothing wrong; they either don’t like you or your idea or they are in another headspace.
Either way, you’ll get the message; their lack of an answer is an answer in itself.
Get the message and steer clear. Meanwhile, if you are bold enough, you may go back some months later with your project redone and seek a yes again but try not to be a pest even if your mantra is, “never give up”.
My encounter with these individuals strengthened my belief that people’s reactions to things are based on their perspectives, not yours. Your outlook to life is what determines if you use the no’s you get as a stepping stone or a slide.
Follow this up with Minda Zetlin’s post on Reasons you should Embrace hearing no and our Tiny Blue Print for Turning Comparison into a Beneficial Thing
Gabriella Opara is a student and freelance content writer based in Lagos. She is passionate about creativity and self-development, moonlighting as a poet and amateur artist by night.
Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @glamogen