Who Says “No” Is Always Negative?

Posted on October 21, 2014. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Executive Job Search, International Job Seekers, Interviews, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips |

self-esteemI was speaking with a fellow parent a few years ago who has a son my daughter’s age. While our two children were playing together at a birthday party (they were about 5 years old at the time), he was proudly telling me how he “never says no” to his son (of course he had just heard me say “no” to my daughter who wanted to suck on a lollipop while jumping in a bounce house). He told me that “no” is so “negative” and he doesn’t want his son to grow up with that hurting his self-image. (Although I know our respective kids were a long way off from considering each other as “marriage material,” I couldn’t help my natural tendency to start moving my daughter away from his son…judge me if you must.)

I’ll never forget the conversation because 1) I was taken aback by his self-confidence that he was doing the right thing (and that I was so old-fashioned) and 2) it reminds me of the career services/hiring world of work.

A “no” is “always” taken as a negative.

And it is “always” linked somehow to your self-esteem.

We seem to live in a world that dislikes the word “no,” so much so that we go to great lengths to avoid hearing it or using it or acknowledging it.

Yet, there it is anyway!

Recently, I wrote about positive thinking and your career, and in that post, I talked about how proper preparation leads to true positive thinking because it allows you to have a foundation for it. Expanding on that is the idea of “negative preparation.”

Negative preparation is a strategy that allows us to anticipate obstacles or the “no(s)” we might encounter on our way to a goal.

In other words, we learn to expect a certain amount of “no” in our quest to advance or progress. By preparing for these negatives, we can better form our argument and have an answer to respond to them. Lawyers do this when preparing for a case. Good sales staff do this when preparing for objections in the sales process.

And part of the preparation is understanding that often the counterarguments brought up along the way have less to do with us personally and more to do with the other party’s perspective, a perspective that might have some validity to it and that we can grow from.

Of course, sometimes even with negative preparation, we still might ultimately get a “no” or lose a case or argument, but the idea is that it helps you fine-tune for the next time around. (Furthermore, I think all of us can come up with a time when we can be thankful for “unanswered prayers.”)

For some reason, however, negative preparation rarely gets applied to job seekers. Job seekers are told to “think positively” and to “brand” themselves, to have the “right” credentials, and to present themselves as a “team player.” They are also told that if they have certain limitations, such as lack of credential and over- or under-qualified, then the world is against them…personally. And the best they can do is hope for the best. It’s odd advice if you think about it.

Hoping for the best is not a strategy.

And a “no” is not “always” a personal slight.

Yet because the job search process is so emotional, we often lost sight of these things. We take rejection hard and rarely use it to make us better prepared the next time around.

In other words, we only see it as a negative. And that negative usually has a significant impact on how we come to view ourselves.

It’s hard for us to remember that although our careers are personal, the marketplace is not.

The market functions on different principles than we do, and by watching what it says “yes” to and what is says “no” to we can adjust to meet it better (aka strategy).

Because it is “always” saying “yes” and “no”…always (and usually more “no” than “yes”).

The question is are you prepared for it? Or are you going to be like my fellow parent’s son, unprepared when someone says it to you? Because sooner or later, they will. (I’m positive about that.)



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