Want to Hear "Yes" More Often? Try This Simple Trick.
Running my own business has been a big personal growth experience, packed with valuable life lessons. Possibly the biggest one so far is around “yes” and “no.”
In order to get a “yes”, we need to be willing to collect many “no”s.
This isn't a particularly pleasant experience—as hard as it is to say no sometimes, it’s just as hard (if not harder) to hear no.
But, as uncomfortable as it can feel, the more we’re willing to ask, the more we are likely to hear "yes" more often.
I used to think that asking was rude and presumptuous. With most requests I make—whether it’s about collaboration, asking for a favour, requesting an interview, or inviting someone to a coaching session—I still have to remind myself that it’s not rude to ask.
In fact, it’s rude not to ask based on the assumption that someone will say no.
After all, who am I to make that decision for them without giving them a chance to decide for themselves?
Let's talk about "no"...
Part of the reason why hearing “no” can be so hard is that it leaves us feeling isolated. We see other people doing the things we want to do and we often see the results of the "yes" at the end of their journey, rather than the slew of "no"s they've collected on the way there. We rarely discuss the "no"s; it's a little ouchy for the ego and maybe, deep down, we still harbour fears of being an impostor.
But the more I thought about this as I was writing this post, the more I realised that so many beautiful things in my life right now have a series of "no"s behind them:
- I adore working with passionate and inspired people, and I'm able to live wherever I want while I'm doing it. The genesis of this whole journey? I got turned down for a job I really wanted after university, had zero dinero, and no clue what I wanted to do with my life.
- A couple of months ago, I got married to my wonderful husband, and you know what? I’m so grateful to the people who said “no” to a relationship with me before then and played their own part in shaping my journey towards him (in hindsight—at the time, it sucked).
- Early next year, I’m going to be sharing interviews with 10-20 of my biggest and brightest role models for a symposium on entrepreneurship I'm hosting with En*theos (can't wait to share more info with you soon!) I pitched my first idea to them back in April, and it wasn’t a good fit. That opened the way for this new project, which fulfils a big need and about which I'm even more excited.
- Last week, I had a post published on MindBodyGreen. This is the fourth or fifth time I’ve pitched to them; my other posts were rejected. And that's cool, I'm pleased I had time to refine my ideas and produce something that felt authentic.
None of these paths have been comfortable. Hearing some of those "no"s was brutal, but all of them led to a bigger and better "yes" in their own way.
[Tweet "“No” is not a bad word—to say or to hear. No is simply part of our journey to "yes"."]
Redefining our relationship with no
Earlier this year, my coach introduced me to “The ‘No’ Game”. Here’s how it works:
Think of something you would like to create (a particular project, a romantic relationship, more clients, a dream vacation), and think about all the requests you're going to need to make to make that dream a reality.
Now, instead of focusing on whether or not you'll get the “yes”s that will lead to that outcome, focus on collecting as many “no”s as possible.
Here's why this works:
When we change our perspective of “no” from something we should avoided to we can embrace, we transform anxiety around fear or rejection into excitement and possibility. When we're focused on avoiding a negative response, each "no" strikes an emotional blow that, over time, depletes our willpower. Take the emotional weight out of the word, and our willpower lasts for longer. Reframing "no" in this way also takes the pressure off; it doesn't matter if we hear a lot of "no"s because that's the point of the game, right?
Here's the counter-intuitive kicker: the more relaxed we are, the more likely we are to get our “yes,” even if that's not what we're focused on. Neediness is a turn-off, but desperation-free enthusiasm is very appealing.
Finally, getting to "yes" is a numbers game. There are definitely things we can do to shift the ratios in our favour, but when we are willing to put ourselves out there and collect as many “no”s as possible, the more likely we are to hear "yes" more often.
Chances are that, right now, there’s something you want or a request you’d like to make. So give this a try; for the next two weeks, rather than worrying about getting a “yes,” focus on reaching out and try to collect as many “no”s as possible.
Are you game? :)
What do you do to hear "yes" more often? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Image: Sven Schlager