​Do you take No for an Answer?

How To Turn A No Into a Yes

Go to the profile of Kay White
May 24, 2016
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As career women navigate their path inside corporations they so often tell me about something they ‘wish’ they could have or do or be involved in and so often my first question is “Well... do they know that?” or “who have you asked about that?” I’m often either met with a blank stare or a gasp with “I couldn’t possibly ask for it?” or “Oh I’ve asked but I’m still waiting to hear…” or “what if they say NO”.

Well, it’s a good question. What if they do say No? Does it have to mean No? Could it mean something else entirely? Could you just quietly shrug your shoulders and say ‘So what’ and keep going?

Here’s the thing I know to be true. If you hold back or hope or hint OR if you wait until someone asks you, then you may be waiting a very long time. You’re also more likely to see others get offered the opportunity or the very thing you wanted and you know why? Often because you held back and didn’t ask. Outright. If you stake your claim and put yourself forward, clearly ask for what you want then you open up the doors for discussion, negotiation, opportunity, conversations which would never happen if you wait.

So, let’s consider why so many women don’t ask because they fear the word No. I believe it comes from that fear of rejection or of being or feeling crushed and embarrassed by someone rejecting your idea/request/suggestion – and that will indeed stop you if you keep that fear foremost in your mind. So, what happens when you’re rejected then? What do you do with that NO? What do you make it mean? Can you hear the power in that question – what do you make it mean? You will receive a No. More often than not, more than one. Well, so what? What if you just keep going? What if you don’t make it No to you. It’s just a No from that person. Different.

I believe it’s either one or a combination of the following, and this is where you find that place – and give yourself permission – to keep going.

Here’s what the NO can really mean:

  • Not now which can be translated as – “I haven’t got time to think about it and don’t want to think about it – ask me another time, just not today”
  • Not me –which translated would be “I don’t have a clue or I don’t want to give it to you but it’s more about me than you.”
  • Not you, really?? “I had no idea you wanted that or that it mattered to you – I need to think about it and have no idea what to say”
  • Not interested – “I’ve got too much on and I’m only really interested in what I want, not what you want – you should ask someone else”
  • Not my responsibility – “I have no idea what to do about that and don’t want you to know so it’s easiest to say NO to you”

Can you hear that NO isn’t about you, in fact it rarely is about you?

That’s how and why I encourage you to take on the next ‘No’ you receive when you ask for what you want because the first thing you hear may well be a No but…it doesn’t have to mean a No to you. Not anymore. Step up and ask and, keep going.


Known as the Savvy & Influential Communication Expert, our Life Labs contributor, Kay White, is hosting a unique 3-day Live Event “Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard LIVE” in London on 9, 10, 11 June and as a guest of Psychologies, use the code GLITTERBALL and take 50% off your seat.

Let’s make it your time to shine at work without selling your soul. When would now be a better time to go for Promotion, Recognition and Rewards all while being true to yourself?

For further immediate ‘shots’ of inspiration and tactics on showing up at work in a way which gets you heard and understood, try Kay’s Weekly Podcast on iTunes:Show Up; Sparkle & Be Heard . They’re short and snappy and full of tips to inspire and guide you at work.

Go to the profile of Kay White

Kay White

Savvy & Influential Communication for Ambitious Women in Business, www.KayWhite.com

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