Andrew Harmon




Hearing "No" Gets Easier

by: Tatiana Bachus

Yesterday I got an email that momentarily stopped me in my tracks. I was chatting with an old friend and needed to check my emails. I saw the name of a corporation that I had submitted a proposal to in the inbox view. In my heart I knew it was another “no” even before I opened it. In the past a “no” like this would have reduced me to tears.

These “no’s” weren’t just answers. These “no’s” felt like judgements, assessments of my worth, credibility as a businesswoman and my character. They felt as though I had been weighed and measured and determined inadequate. Inadequate at what? It didn’t matter, it just hurt. Each “no” made me feel closer to giving up than closer to my goal. I would wonder why I was even attempting such foolishness and I would assure myself that only those who have money, power, influential friends or some special magic get that glorious “yes!”

It was flawed logic. Yes, getting a no stinks. It means that you have not reached the finish line or even the perceived halfway mark. It means you have to go back to the drawing board to determine what went wrong, where you should make improvements and sometimes to reevaluate the feasibility of continuing on your journey.

I’ve adopted a truly healthy attitude about proposal submissions and grant applications. I realize that if I didn’t submit for the opportunity I would never have thought through the questions that were asked, written up the proposal, requested feedback from mentors and all of the other things I do to refine my product during a submission process. It can be tedious, painful and disenchanting, but at the end of the road I find that I have a better understanding of my product and my business.
This must be the road I have to take to get my next “yes.” I was going to write to get my first “yes,” but in reality I’ve gotten a series of “yeses” that have gotten me here. It’s really easy to forget the small successes along the way when all you can focus on is the big “failures” in your midst.

Yesterday, when I opened the email I knew it was a no. The “After careful consideration of the information you provided, we’d like to inform you that we will be declining your proposal, as it does not meet our business needs at this time.” Yesterday I read that for what it was. My product didn’t fit their business needs, period. It was not a character assassination or a death sentence to the success of my project. It simply meant that we did not share a common vision for how our brands could mesh.

There is value in understanding that people can like you, they can even like the work you are doing and still not want to buy it. You get the “yes” when the stars align – you have the right product, for the right company, at the right time to serve their current business needs, they like you and here’s the holy grail – you have been able to prove or at least open the door to the idea that your product or service will provide value to their company, employees and/or customers.

Life is tough. The strong and committed thrive. There are plenty of days where I am weak and ambivalent, but with this newfound knowledge I don’t take each “no” as a devaluation of my worth. I understand that for each proposal I submit I am one step closer to my next “yes.” Hopefully the next in a long line of “yeses!”


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