I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard no whether it’s personally or professionally. And I know I’m not the only one. In fact, I think so many of us can definitely relate. Most of the time, hearing no doesn’t cause me to think twice. But then there are the other times when no is the answer, and it’s the hardest thing to hear and/or see in an email, especially when that no is tied to something you want with every fiber of your being.
Recently, I experienced a no that ruined my day and caused me to feel totally off for a series of days. It wasn’t what I was expecting to hear at all, which always make everything worse, and it was tied to a huge dream I’ve had for years. As difficult as it was to swallow, it’s honestly for the best (something I can appreciate and understand after time has passed). Because yes isn’t always the answer you’re given, here’s how I’ve learned to handle hearing no when it’s the hardest word to hear:
1. Know when to defend your point of view. There is a point when you need to let something go, and then there’s a point to respectfully defend your views. If you feel like you want to explain your point of view further or if you see an area where you can compromise to meet the other person/group in the middle, say something. But realize what standing up for yourself will mean. If you find yourself thinking you’re uncomfortable making the possible compromise you’re about to suggest, don’t suggest it. However, if you’re willing to look at that compromise head on and make the change, go for it. Your no may turn into a yes, but you need to want that yes with bells on.
2. Dwell on it. I’m not joking. So often, friends, family, and people who mean so well encourage you to move on…immediately. I can’t. I’m not wired to simply move on. I think things through, and I talk about them. And that’s OK. That’s what helps me to move on with time. So, whether you’re like me or not, I encourage you to dwell on it. Think about what the experience has taught you, and what you can use from it moving forward. You’ve learned something without a doubt. By processing your experience, you may also realize there’s much more to the fact that you don’t like hearing no (or maybe there isn’t – maybe you just don’t like that you were told no. That’s OK if that’s the case!).
3. Feel all of the feelings. Particularly when a no is related to something you really, really wanted to experience, by all means feel all of the feelings. Sincerely. I was shocked, sad, and frustrated in the span of an hour…and then all of that again for a few days after that. It was terrible. But, I gave myself grace and left myself alone. I cannot stress this enough: give. yourself. grace. You will be OK again, just not right this second (…or today or even tomorrow).
4. It’s OK to fail. But you likely did not fail at all. How you view failure is entirely up to you. If you were told no but walked into a meeting confidently and honestly expressed your views, then you didn’t fail. You were honest with yourself and those who might be involved. In my opinion, that’s what you should do, and it’s also the bravest option possible. However, it doesn’t mean that hearing no is any less jarring, especially if it seemed as though everyone else agreed with you too. Can you present yourself in a different way in the future that might be a stronger option? That’s likely. But it also relates to point #2: you learned something to use down the line.
5. Switch gears. Spend time with friends, talk with family, read a book, run, catch up on your favorite shows, create a bouquet – do something that is completely unrelated to what you were pursuing. Your mind will be occupied with something much more positive, which will only help. Because it’s finally warmer outside, being able to run is invaluable to me. I’m able to work toward my running goals, which still makes me feel as though I’m accomplishing something. If you’re looking for a great book or two, I highly recommend this and this. Also, I’m addicted to “Southern Charm” on Bravo. Sorry, Charleston friends. ;)
6. Keep going. The phrase “everything happens for a reason” is one that I believe to be completely true. I also believe sometimes a door closing means you’re being indirectly protected from having an experience you would have hated in the long run. While the no means now isn’t the right moment, it doesn’t mean you will never do whatever it is you’re hoping for. Don’t give up. Keep going. Always.
How do you handle hearing no? Do you have any tips to share?
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Great advice Carly. I hope your cousin reads this