“No.” It’s our least favorite word. We don’t like to use it, and we certainly don’t like to hear it. But without it, we are left to wonder whether our relationships are genuine, whether our prospects are truly interested in our services, and whether our referral sources ever intend to send us any business.
The truth is, rejection saves us from chasing low-yield opportunities. Take this blog for example. After I write an entry, I send an email to my mail list letting everyone know that it’s available. Once in a while, I receive a notice that says something like, “Jerry Smith has opted out of your email list.” While I’m sad to see Jerry go, I recognize that he has helped to refine my mail list so that it consists only of people who are genuinely interested in hearing what I have to say.
I wish that prospective clients and referral sources had a convenient “opt-out” button so they could communicate their disinterest in us and we could refocus on productive relationships and opportunities. Instead they often string us along with vague, ambiguous communications. Apparently it’s the nice thing to do.
So this week I encourage you to become part of the solution. Upgrade your communication from ambiguity to certainty. If you’re tired of these blogs, opt-out of my mail list. When your employee comes to you for a premature raise or promotion, give them a straight answer and tell them what it will take to earn more goodwill from you. Bow out of next week’s lunch, and simply tell them that your networking calendar has gotten too full for another meeting. Tell your colleague that you respectfully decline to join yet another board position. Tell soliciting vendors that you aren’t ready to buy, rather than ignoring their follow-up calls and emails. Give them the courtesy of a rejection so they can stop wasting both of your time. It will sting a little, sure. The truth does that sometimes. But when the answer isn’t “yes,” the most efficient and effective alternative is a clear “no.” And you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly your email inbox thins out when you start to embrace the value of rejection.
David Ackert is the President of The Ackert Advisory, a boutique consulting firm in Los Angeles that provides business development solutions to the professional services world. He is the founder of Practice Boomers, a business development e-learning program that helps service professionals get more clients and grow their practice. He has also served as coach and advisor to over 200 CEOs, government executives, and VPs. Read more of David’s great advice at http://www.ackertadvisory.com/category/blog/.