Just what is a no?

No is a pretty powerful word.  When we are growing up, it stops us from putting our hands on a hot surface, keeps us from eating all our candy at Halloween and as a teenager, creates wails of agony, foot stomping and cries of “you just don’t understand” when it follows a request to hang with the crowd.  We learn pretty quickly that no is not a good thing.  Avoiding a no becomes an eternal quest.  Anything to feel that disappointment or shame from hearing it.

When you choose to become an actor, no becomes in intrinsic part of your world.  It’s not often expressed verbally but you know the no is there when you don’t get that call back or the shoot date comes and goes and by golly you weren’t on set.  Or heaven forbid, you don’t even get the call in the first place.  Ugh.  It’s hard not to take that personally.  Especially when the product you are behind 100% is yourself.  And if you hear, or don’t hear but it’s implied, no often enough, you start to believe it.  I’m not right.  I’ll never get hired.  I’m just not good enough.

I had an AHA moment recently when I heard something about the word no and it hit like a 2 x 4 between the eyes.  No is just a result, it’s not a judgement of me or my talents.  So while it’s not the result I wanted, it is nothing more than a result.  And I can take that result and refine whatever it is that I’m doing so I get closer to the result I do want.

Taking the judgement and rejection out of no really helps dull the sting.  It is merely a notation in the grand experiment of life that gets you closer to the yes you want.

4 Responses to “Just what is a no?”

  1. Paul Strikwerda Says:

    Thanks for sharing these empowering thoughts, Pam! We’re on the same page.

    Selection and rejection are two very different things. Not being selected doesn’t mean that we’re being rejected. It just means that someone else happened to be a better fit, depending on very subjective and often vague criteria. Talent might not even have anything to do with it. Perhaps it all came down to price.

    A word is only as powerful as the meaning we attribute to it. The same word can mean something very different, depending on the context.

    When my wife finally heard back from her doctor after having undergone a cancer screening, she jumped for joy when she heard the word “no”.

    I just said “no” to a voice-over project, and I couldn’t be happier because I wasn’t willing to work for next to nothing.

    Saying “Yes” to “No” can be a liberating, exhilarating and totally positive experience. It also happens to be the topic of my most popular blog post to date. So, if you’d like to explore this topic a bit more, I warmly invite you to stop by for a visit:


  2. Rod Schwartz Says:

    In the 38 years I’ve been selling or creating radio advertising campaigns, I’ve had my share of “No!” answers from prospects and clients, as undoubtedly you did, too, from time to time when you were in television advertising sales.

    One thing I was fortunate to learn early on was the value of perseverance and durability, realizing that “No!” may prove to be the beginning, not the end of a relationship, counter-intuitive as though it may seem.

    You’ve heard the sales trainers say that “No” is often a request for more information or different terms, a way of saying “not now” or “not at this price,” etc. When a prospect doesn’t comprehend something, it may be easier for him to say “No,” rather than “I don’t understand.”

    One of my best clients today is a retailer who took 40 years to grow his business to $1 million/yr. I started calling on this account midway through those first 40 years and heard “No!” more often than not. Then a change of ownership provided a window of opportunity for me to get a new hearing, a chance to present new ideas, that within a year resulted in his putting over 90% of his advertising budget into radio, and a change of creative direction, moving from the constant din of “sale-sale-sale” to a more consistent, customer-focused branding campaign.

    In the ten years I’ve worked with the new owners now, business has doubled (over $2 million a year), the result of steady growth in a category that has been flat or down nationally. Needless to say, our relationship is one of mutual respect and trust.

    My point is, “No!” isn’t the end.

    Quitting is the end.

    • Pam Tierney Says:

      Ah yes, the sales no. How quickly I’d put that whole aspect of the word behind me! Great story Rod and thanks for reminding me of yet another facet of this tiny but mighty word.

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