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The Worst They Can Say Is “No.”

Maybe you’re a highly-confident person all the time. But if you’re like me, you periodically get nervous about making important phone calls, etc. Maybe it’s asking credit card people to lower your interest, or maybe you’re trying to make a new business contact.

The thing is that most of the time the worst that people can actually say is “No.” Probably 99% of the time.

The amount of stress it causes, you’d think they’d burn down our houses, take our kids, destroy our lives, etc.

Some things, like asking for a raise or a day off, may affect your work situation…but if you’re a good sport about it either way and prepare yourself, even a negative answer may not negatively impact your career.

When I had to tell my last boss that I was leaving, I was nervous about how she’d react. I stopped by a church to pray when I had an epiphany. A kind of sarcastic voice in my head said “What’s she going to do? Fire you?”

If she fired me then I’d be quitting a few weeks early. If she started treating me like crap then I could just leave or say “I’m not putting up with this.”

Of course, as things turned out everything went quite smoothly. It was helpful to keep that sarcastic voice in the back of my head to encourage me.

Next time you feel this way, think of the worst thing that could happen. Could they say no? Could they they do more?

If they say no, then it’s time to try the next thing.

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Fiscal Musings February 19, 2008 at 4:44 pm

I’m always telling people (including myself) this. Not that you should go around with reckless abandon, but things shouldn’t be as stressful as we make them.

CatherineL February 19, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Good point Mrs M – I love this post. We worry about making phone calls, or starting conversations about the sillies things.

And as you say, what is the worst thing that could happen to us? Sometimes our fears are so irrational.

Dad February 19, 2008 at 9:50 pm

That’s a great observation you’ve made. Another thing that bothers me a lot is when people ask me to justify my point of view. A telemarketer will try to argue with my decision. They ask if they may ask why I turned them down. Rather than argue with them, it has been great freedom for me when they ask if they can ask why I’m turning them down to say No. That is, no you can’t ask. They don’t have the right to that info if I don’t want to give it.

Dawn February 19, 2008 at 9:51 pm

How true – how true! Yet, it is so easy to escalate things in our own minds. I think self confidence helps… but sometimes – certain people & certain situations still turn me into a babbling junior high kid.

Fun post to think about Mrs. Micah – Thanks 🙂

Master Your Card February 20, 2008 at 2:47 am

Quite so. I’ve ashamed to say that my fear of rejection has cost me many of life’s opportunities.

It’s unfortunate that so much of the good advice out there is repeated as nauseum to the extent that it’s now a cliche and has no real meaning to us.

Still, it bears repeating: If you never ask, you’ll never know.

Brip Blap February 26, 2008 at 10:06 pm

I’m actually convinced that if you could get past this little hang up, you’d be on top of about 99.99% of your daily interactions with other people. I have worked hard on this and I think I’m better than many people – but I still have a loooooooooooong way to go! Good point, and always worth hammering home.

Shawn@MoneyBrick February 28, 2008 at 2:37 am

Since so many people agreed with you (and I agree with you, too), I want to add in my two cents about what to do when you’ve gotten the “no” for an answer. I’ve never had a problem asking for things and being read for a “no” answer (maybe because I read a book about negotiating that my dad gave me when I was 13). So for the more adventurous and bold out there, this is what I do when I get no for an answer: I debate!

I don’t argue, of course, because arguing just ruins everything. Debating, however, is always a great idea. “Dad” mentioned that he doesn’t want to justify to telemarketers why he said no… but that is a tactic you can use to turn a “no” into a “yes” (that’s why telemarketers do that)! I wouldn’t ask them why they say no so directly, however, I may ask them what they’d lose or what would be wrong with an affirmative decision. You could ask to speak to managers (when you’re the customer), and you could debate the point from the other’s point of view (when it’s an equal-person basis).

For example, one time I overcharged on my credit card and they let it go through, but they charged me $25! I called them and straightly asked why I got charged $25. The operator explained their policy, and I asked if they couldn’t just “forgive” me this once. She said no, and I said, “But c’mon! It’s my first time… if I had known…” Then she put me on hold and presumably talked to her manager. Since I was a long-time user of their card, she said, “Okay, I’ll reverse that this once.” Yes. I win, and I didn’t stop merely at asking – I pushed on. You should, too.

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