“NO”…Listen Up!

Creative Commons via stewardshipforlife.org

When we hear the word “no,” how many of us wander away from the conversation without really considering why we just heard that word?  The word itself strikes fear among children and even as adults, it is sometimes easier to simply move on than to explore what “no” really means.

A brief conversation this morning reminded me that negative reactions are still engaged reactions.

We often hope that everything we do will be met with positive responses, but a much worse reaction to find is “apathy.”  Apathy, by definition, is the “absence of emotion or enthusiasm.” At its core, it simply means that the listener doesn’t care one way or the other about what they are hearing.

We should want people to care.  And, rather than discount our naysayers, we should be much more attentive when we find opposition.  Consider some of the possible reasons why someone might say “no” to you:

  • They can’t afford what you are selling,
  • They don’t need what you are offering,
  • They don’t understand the full impact or value of the initiative you are advancing,
  • They might perceive there is a better alternative,
  • They might be feeling that they don’t have a role in the solution,
  • They might have priorities which are more important to them than the current proposal,
  • They might not feel that anyone is listening to their concern, or
  • They might need more information

Regardless of why a person says it, you have an opportunity to explore why with them and better understand their perspective or needs.  Until the reason behind a person’s opposition is addressed, you will find it unlikely that they will support your project.

It is also important to never presume you know the reason why.  People will give you clues or speak directly about their concerns.  And, if you listen and seek to address those concerns in a positive manner, you might just find that person becomes your staunchest supporter because they will learn to trust that you will listen.

“No” shouldn’t be a scary word, but rather is your biggest clue that you might just need to “listen up.”



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