Failure is not final: How to transform a “no” into an opportunity 🪄
Do you remember when I told you about the time I got an out-of-the-blue call from a well-known global tech company, and interviewed to be their global spokesperson?
Well, let me refresh your memory on the outcome: I got consumed by my own self-doubt and totally tanked the interview. 😫
The real kicker was the rejection email that said: “Stay in touch – but we’re going to pass.”
Ouch! That prickled. And yes, I spent some time licking my wounds. But one of the biggest lessons of my entire life came a week later when I decided to take them at their word to “stay in touch.”
I pitched them an idea for a different collaboration: co-producing a study on professionals’ negotiating habits, timed with the launch of my second book, Pushback.
And are you ready for this? Just two days later, they agreed!
We co-designed a worldwide survey and did interviews with The LA Times, Today.com, and loads of other media.
One takeaway I’ll never forget from this experience is that “No” does not have to be the end of the story. And it’s the same for you when you’re chasing a career opportunity and you get told, “No,” “Not yet,” or “I don’t think so.”
I know challenging the very people who denied you can feel intimidating, so that’s why I’m sharing three pieces of advice to make *not* taking no for an answer easier.
Quick Confidence Tips For Transforming Failure Into Opportunity:
Mindset: Get curious. No matter what kind of “No” you received, who could give you more information or insight into the hurdle you want to clear? Or, how could you query the decision-makers about what they’d like to see more of? Jodi Glickman, CEO of GreatOnTheJob.com, applied to Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management (JGSM) in hopes of earning a Park Leadership Fellowship, a $72,000 scholarship for two years. She got the news that she was admitted to JGSM but was not offered the fellowship. She called the director of the program in hopes of lobbying for her candidacy and started by asking questions to understand what criteria were used to pick candidates. It turned out the director hadn’t seen her application because her GMAT score was just below the threshold. But it was a program for leaders committed to community service and leadership — and Jodi had been a Peace Corps volunteer and policy analyst at the EPA! After making her case, the director said, "How come I never saw your application?!" The next day the director called Jodi to personally offer her the fellowship.
Embodied: Summon the strength to ask for a follow-up discussion. If you truly care about whatever it is on the line — a job, promotion, denied acceptance into a program, go back one more time to show your persistence and dedication. Tune into your own instincts: Ask yourself, what’s one way I could act today to request another meeting, a second look, an appealed decision or to alter my pitch and put it back in front of decision-makers? Remember, their “No” is only final if you see it that way.
Interpersonal: Level-up your language: When trying to change someone's mind, be sure to use confident language. Just think: when we hear confident words and delivery, our perks our ears up - it tells us that it's time to listen. So rather than saying, “Maybe…, I guess…., or "I was just wondering if...,” instead, advocate for yourself using strong, confident statements like “I'm proposing…”, "I recommend…”, “I’m requesting…”, and “I’d like to see if you’d consider…." These small tweaks prompt people to take you more seriously. They illustrate your self-confidence in your idea and yourself. By speaking in clear, audible tones and using confident terms, you’ll make it harder for them to say no.
(Looking for more tips? Check out Quick Confidence issues This is how to "fail forward", The joy of a beginner mindset, and When it comes to little failures, have a short memory.)
Go ahead. Try another angle. Shoot your shot — even knowing you might not succeed. Nothing can take the place of persistence!
Do you have a story where persistence paid off and you were able to turn a “No” into an opportunity? Tell me about it in the comments! I’d love to hear about it.
It's bonus time! If you pre-order a copy of my new book, Quick Confidence, you'll get a very special gift.
After sharing proof of purchase, you’ll receive access to attend a weekly series of 1-hour Zoom group coaching sessions with me through May. Each week, we'll tackle a different aspect of building confidence - from dealing with intimidating people to finding confidence in networking situations - to making memorable first impressions.
The best part is you can bring your own questions and get tailored advice on tackling your toughest workplace and career dilemmas.