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4 Reasons You Should Love Hearing 'No'

How often do you get turned down? If it isn't often enough, you may be holding yourself back.
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"You can achieve virtually anything you want--if you're willing to hear 'no' often enough," says Andrea Waltz, co-author of Go for No!

Most people, she says, live in a "Go for Yes" world. "They do everything within their power to get yes and avoid no. That leads to a mediocre life where you're always in your comfort zone." If you're not hearing no, she adds, you're not giving yourself the opportunity to be successful. "You're on one side, the yeses are on the other side, and the nos are the stepping stones that get you there," Waltz says.

It's not always easy to be happy about hearing no, but keeping these thoughts uppermost may help you learn to love (or at least tolerate) being turned down:

1. You should celebrate every no.

If yes makes you happy and no makes you unhappy, you need to get off what Waltz calls "the yes/no emotional roller-coaster." "When you look at no positively, you can see the value in it, celebrate it and have fun," she says. For most people, she admits, seeing no as a reason to party can be a challenge, but at least it should be emotionally neutral. "Don't go up and down all day long," she says. "That's where business owners can cause themselves a lot of heartache and wind up emotionally drained."

In fact, Waltz suggests setting goals for how many nos you can accumulate, rather than the usual goals for sales, or yeses. "That takes away the stigma people put on themselves, and makes it a more fun, stress-free process," she says. "People tell me it's hard to reach those goals. They go for a no and wind up getting a yes, and it's 'Oh, darn!'"

2. No doesn't mean never.

"No means not yet," Waltz says. It's important to follow up with contacts after you've gotten a no, just as it is if you've gotten no response at all. "We recommend not letting those opportunities die," she says. That means being persistent within reasonable bounds.

How can you tell when you're being reasonable? It's a judgment call, but "most people give up too soon," she says. "They don't hear back and they assume it's a no. They have a fear of looking pushy or aggressive and to avoid being perceived that way, they may not go back one time, let alone two or three times." But following up if you get no response is essential. It's important not to make decisions for people about what they're willing to do, or to spend, Waltz says.

3. A good no is better than a bad yes.

Some people don't like hearing no because they fear it makes the person uncomfortable to say it. But if you've embraced the concept that a no isn't particularly bad news, you can make it clear to a potential customer or other contact that you're equally willing to hear either answer. And you definitely don't want them to say yes unless it's a good deal for them. "You should keep the customer's best interest in mind at all times," Waltz says.

4. Every no is a chance to learn.

"No is a perfectly acceptable answer, but not necessarily the end of the conversation," Waltz says. "'I am curious: Why was it no?' It's important to find out as quickly--and casually--as possible what the no had to do with."

Sometimes, she says, it might arise from some misunderstanding that you need to clear up, for instance if the customer thinks an item will be more expensive than it really will. Other times, the no will be final, but you may learn something, such as that you need to adjust your product or pricing or pitch, or target a different type of customer. It's important to obtain this information, Waltz says. "Within every no is the information needed to move forward."

Last updated: Jun 25, 2013

MINDA ZETLIN | Columnist | Co-author, The Geek Gap

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of The Geek Gap, and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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