It’s Monday morning and a bit chilly. Autumn has arrived and the wind is blowing some leaves into your face. As you walk around the corner, you see what is in between you and the entrance of your supermarket. Oh no… A charity fundraiser… You already know how this is going to go. It’s time for some rejection…
“Do you think everybody should have the same rights?”
“Do you know that some people don’t have enough food for themselves?”
“Do you think these people should have food?”
– “Yes, of course”
“Do you want to financially support our charity?”
– “Well… The thing is…”
And we wiggle our way out of the conversation.
These types of sales pitches are all aimed to make you say ‘yes’. To make you say yes repeatedly, in the hopes that your yes-momentum will somehow keep you going and make you commit to their payment plan. The problem with this strategy, however, is that it does not work. In fact, it makes the counterpart feel deeply uncomfortable.
The thing is, people are afraid of receiving the word ‘no’. People fear rejection. Fundraisers included. (Yes, I know, they are people too). However, by trying to avoid rejection we strip ourselves of some amazing growth opportunities. Whenever somebody tells you ‘no’, what they are actually trying to say is something like:
- I am not feeling comfortable
- I don’t know enough to agree to this
- I am not ready to commit
- I need to think about it
- I need to talk about it with someone else first
- I cannot agree to this for reasons I cannot tell you right now
The fact is, rejection is necessary for emotional growth. We recently talked about how You are worthy of any gift. And even though you are, that does not mean that other people have to be ready to give you that gift. The people around you have their own autonomy to tell you yes or no. But they cannot give you this, if you do not ask for what you want. They cannot give you this, if you are not willing to accept their rejectment. That is where real growth lives. No pain, no gain!
I should point out that rejection is not as scary as we make it out to be. Rejection has everything to do with the other person, and far less with you. The other person has their own history and circumstances that might prevent them from accepting you and connecting with you as you are. They have their own emotional obstacles to confront.
So how about we thank the other for telling us ‘no’. How about we thank them for expressing themselves openly and honestly to us. And what better way to respect their vulnerability, then by respecting their boundary, and leaving their ‘no’ with them.
Everybody has two basic needs in any interaction with another person: a need for emotional safety and a need for feeling in control. By inviting the other to say ‘no’, we empower the other to feel in control. We give them the safety of controlling the perimeter of the interaction. They get to tell us their boundaries, and by accepting their ‘no’ we are showing them that we respect their autonomy to do so.
This will allow us to discuss those things that are holding us back and that are making us reject the offer or request that is on the table. And who knows, with some good talking and a lot of patience, we might get to an agreement after all.
As Winnie-the-Pooh said so adequately: “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”