Why Give a Damn:

Last week we fessed up to the fears we have about starting a new business. This week’s post continues where that left off and explores perhaps the most persistent trigger that will bring your fears on: when someone says “no” to you.

The authors of this post, Andrew Missingham and Ben Gallagher, are problem solvers who specialize in strategic planning, prototyping and facilitation. In this post they are documenting the launch of their company benandandrew.com

Understanding and acting on a “no” can be more valuable than blindly accepting a quick “yes”.  Tweet This Quote

It’s not a word any of us like to hear, but surprisingly, when starting a business, understanding and acting on a “no” can be more valuable than blindly accepting a quick “yes”. Whilst a positive reaction may seem to indicate a commitment (of sorts) to support, it can often lack detail or edges as to where the commitment starts and ends. If an investor says “yes” to your first pitch, could you have gotten your investor to pay more? Accept a smaller share? Offer services in addition to cash in return for a stake? Recommend other colleagues who could get involved? On its own, a “yes” doesn’t tell you any of that, but the converse, a “no”, can leave more space for you to explore and learn what you’d otherwise only imagine.

When you’re starting a business, your job is to enlist those around you to join in manifesting your vision. So, of course, a big, meaningful “yes” is what we’re all looking for and preparing for as well as we can (as Jeff Hoffman explained in his recent post “The Secret to Getting Investors to Say Yes”). But, you’ve got to be ready for some knocks along the way. Some won’t get you at first and some won’t get you at all. But some will get what you do – and the hardest to win over may turn out to be your most powerful allies (kind of like Han Solo in Star Wars). So get used to hearing “no”, but more importantly, understand what kind of “no” it is, then learn how to get the most out of it so you can move closer to your goal.

Here are some ways you’ll hear “no” and what you can do if you hear them.

“No” can mean:

  • “Not you”
    You’re likely to hear it when you’re the person with something to sell or push, and the listener wants a third party, impartial endorsement. Or the person wants to hear from someone on their level, or already known and credible to them.

    In this case, try getting supporters who can advocate on your behalf. Or get to know your prospect’s network – who they hang out with and where – and enlist via those indirect routes.

  • “Not me”
    You’re asking the wrong person. They might be too junior to make a decision, or even too senior to make a tactical decision about who to work or partner with.

    So try finding who’s the person at the right level for your ask, then appeal to them, or, enlist via someone who can appeal peer-to-peer.

  • “Not now”
    You’ll hear this kind of “no” if you approach someone when their budget decisions for the year have been sewn up.

    Get to know the prospect’s business rhythm. When does their fiscal year run from? When do they take budget decisions, and who’s in on those conversations?

  • “Not yet”
    This often means you’re interesting but we don’t think you’re ready. It can also mean you’re interesting but your prospect is not ready (there’s another project they’ve got their heads in)

    Keep these prospects close and up-to-speed. This is a good “no” to hear, just as long as you continue to work your own timetable, and don’t get sidetracked waiting for theirs to coincide.

  • “Not again”
    We’ve funded something similar. We’ve got that on our investment portfolio. Or it can be government or trust/foundation funding, which favours first time entrepreneurs, and you’re not one.

    So try asking who they’d recommend, or (in government/foundation cases) ask which support you might be eligible for.

  • “Not that”
    We’re a tech incubator; you’re doing craft (or vice versa, or some other similar mismatch). Or, we don’t have the expertise in that area.

    When you hear this response, find out what they do back, or where their expertise lies. Let them know you’ll look out for something that’s the right fit for them. Ask them if they’ll do the same for you. It’s amazing how much goodwill an offer of assistance, rather than a request from support can win you.

  • “Not here”
    I’m at dinner/in a cafe/at my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. Please don’t pitch now.

    If you ever see someone who you’ve been trying to get through to in an informal situation, be friendly, apologize for bothering them, acknowledge that you know it’s not the right place, but let them know that you’d like to contact their office for a meeting, and ask for the best person to talk to (this has happened to Andrew in the Garden of 10 Downing Street. He and the prospect eventually met and they worked together). Oh, and by all means, write an “elevator pitch” just never, ever expect it to work in an elevator.

  • “Not that much”
    Your ask is over and above our budget (or what you’re asking for is beyond what we think you’re worth)

    Try to find out what their limit is, and how they ascertain value.

  • “Not that little”
    Yep, you’ll hear this more often than you expect. If you go in with a $20k ask, when their investment range started at $100k, you just wouldn’t be significant enough for them to take time to engage with.

    Ask who they know who would be an appropriate scale for your venture. Which seed-fund programs and small-scale incubators they have links with.

  • “Not ever!”
    Been bothering them every day for six months straight? Is it starting to feel like stalking? Some don’t see even this response as hopeless – if you’re this sort of don’t-take-no-for-an-answer kind of person try taking a tip from Dumb & Dumber’s Lloyd Christmas:

    Lloyd: I want to ask you a question… straight out, flat out… and I want you to give me an honest answer. What do you think the chances of a guy like you and a girl like me… ending up together?
    Mary: Well Lloyd… that’s difficult to say… you really don’t…
    Lloyd: Hit me! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
    Mary: Not good.
    Lloyd: [Gulps] You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
    Mary: I’d say more like… one out of a million.
    Lloyd: So you’re telling me there’s a chance. Yeah!

  • ,

Understand what kind of “no” it is, then learn how to get the most out of it in order to achieve your goal.  Tweet This Quote

About the author



As founders of Ben&Andrew, Andrew Missingham & Ben Gallagher create solutions for cultural, for-profit and social businesses. They have a wide range of experience working with creative agencies, brands and cultural institutions including Wieden & Kennedy, Arts Council England, the British Council, BBC and Sony Music, BMW, and Nike Foundation.

  • Shawn

    It’s of course good to be positive and to not always take a rejection at face value (nor take it personally). I like how this article shows that there are a variety of reasons why people say no to your offer and those reasons may not necessarily mean they are not interested, or wouldn’t be in the future.

  • Shih Chi Tseng

    It is a great article. It is obviously people will feel sad when they get rejection. However, if everyone can change a way to look at rejection as you say, it is really help them to move on.

  • amykahl8

    This is a really important article for business majors in college. However, this can apply to other things outside of the business world. If someone tells a person they aren’t good enough to play a sport or play that part in the play, this person should ask what they need to work on, instead of just giving up. I’m wondering if there is a certain amount of times you can be told no and then you should consider exploring other options?

  • Grantrobinson15

    Love the article and how it addresses the tough reality that many people experience when creating a business. Many people are intimidated and even repelled by a simple “NO” and allow this simple comment to prevent them from following their dreams. I think more people need to be prepared to hear “NO” and understand what it means and how to respond. I especially like how you provide responses to the variation to “NO”. Very important and applicable article!

  • Jen McKiernan

    I really like how you made this article about learning from your mistakes. It is easy to get a no and give up but its the people who take that and learn from it who become successful. This can be applied to many aspects of life not just from a business point. My question would be, how do you know when to give it up if a no is a “not ever”?

  • clemonsel02

    I think this article is one that many need to learn from. I am sad to say when some people in higher power than be have told me “no” I have simply looked to a different person or place to go to, when the one who said no was the place or person I most wanted. I feel that this is important for people especially going into business. The reason I feel this way is because just because you may pitch an idea that people do not like, yet it might not be all of it they do not like. I like how this article tells others how to take a no with a grain of salt. Figure out what is wrong with what you have, change it and try again. A no doesn’t necessarily mean no but it is an opportunity for improvement. I find this important to learn because you can always fight for what you believe in, even if it needs to be changed just a bit. I do question though, how did you come to realize that a no is not a no, but another opportunity? Did you have a moment that this was real for you?

  • Andrew Missingham

    Hi Jen! Good question. To be honest, you have to take control of the “no”. What we’ve tried to do in this article is give you enough ammo, so you know when to take a “no” and either use it to get to ye through that contact or b) accept it, learn and move on to more likely places to receive a positive response.

  • Andrew Missingham

    Hi there. The simple answer is, yes! All of the examples have happened to us in one way or another (that’s how we composed this list). We’ve used every one of these techniques in response to a variety of “no”s to work towards a positive outcome (Er, all except the last one: “not ever”. Just like the technically possible but statistically impossible monkeys and typewriters, if someone said our chances were “one in a million”, we’d go looking elsewhere!)

  • Andrew Missingham

    What can happen in these situations is that early backers will let you know. Let’s continue your sports example: a supportive mom drives you to basketball every evening and gives you every encouragement you need, but even she, after a while sees that you’re never going to get to the NBA. As a real supporter, eventually she’ll let you know, if only so you can spend your talent for enthusiasm and dedication more wisely.

  • William Savoie

    As a person who previously thought that a “no” really meant no in the business world, it is quite a relief to find out there are several other reasons that possible investors say no. The key is to find out what type of “no” it is. Another commenter brought up how to really tell if a no is a no-no and I think that, when there is a combination of different reasons for not doing business, then it is time to look for a different investor. Great article, very informative.

  • TallPaul14

    This was a very interesting take on how to turn rejection into a great learning experience. I never though of a “yes” as leaving many questions unanswered, whereas a “no” can help you answer some questions, and better prepare you for your next pitch to an investor. I also really like dhow you take time to go through various “no” responses, and what each of them means to you, and them. I also like the message of not giving up, you’re not going to please everyone the first try, but that definitely means you shouldn’t give up.

  • hem1

    This article was just what i needed! When hearing no, alot of times people will not look into it any further and just take it as a plain “no”. I personally can admit to doing that sometimes. Determining what type of “no” can definitely be helpful not only in the business world but in your personal life to. Thanks for the advice and insight. More people need to know this!

  • awatwa

    This article is very helpful. “Handling objections” is one of the most important skills for sales people, and it’s true to entrepreneurs as well. Being able to identify different kind of objections is the basis for handle objections. Good objections are valuable for entrepreneurs, such as constructive criticisms. Bad ones might tell us we are talking with the wrong people.

  • mollymorrisey

    The message of this article is great. It’s helpful to learn how to read a “no” in all kinds of business situations. You should always make sure you understand the “why not” behind every “no” response.

  • hanj5

    This article is definitely helpful for my future endeavors. Instead of feeling rejected and discouraged, we need to find the underlying reason for the no and continue on.

  • Lindsay Burke

    I really liked this article a lot. I think that it offers a great learning experience on the importance of rejection. Every time I have needed something, or pitched an idea to someone, “no” is always the last thing that you want to hear and it may feel like a low blow but after reading this article, I see how important it is to translate the answer and turn into into constructive criticism. It is really important to realize that “no” does not mean you need to completely abandon your idea, or change your offer, but it means that you may need to dig deeper and customize it according to the audience you are engaging with. I will definitely be able to take this into my own life and stop being so afraid to hear a rejection.

  • benbl

    I am in the process to start my business and “no” is a really
    common answer when you are proposing a project. The good think of a no is that
    it also tells you that you are doing something wrong. You then adapt and
    ameliorate your project to get the answer that you need to move your project forward.
    No is only an opportunity to do better.

  • layj

    This article is really helpful. Sometimes we just don’t see where a ‘no’ could lead up to. There’s just some message and a secret meaning behind a no. I think it is also important to remember to be honest and be sure to show your enthusiasm when selling your idea. Sometimes a “not yet” may also mean “I’m not sure (tell me more)”. However, make sure that you don’t press too much that you sound desperate.

  • AmandaBrom

    “When one door closes another one opens.” This is a quote that has been said for years and it is something that people should always listen to. This article is exactly this quote. When someone tells you No just don’t throw away all your hard work and start over. Change something to make it better. Make it more appealing to them or rethink how you are presenting the idea. I love the movie Dumb and Dumber. I think there are many simple life lessons in that movie that people can learn from. Another great movie that shows many examples of this is Guilt Trip. He travels around selling his product and gets told no so many times. It wasn’t until his mother helped him that he caught a break. Starting out your career has anyone ever told you no? What gave you this idea to write this article? Thank you for the inspirational article that will help me in everyday life.

  • Andrew Missingham

    Hi Amanda,
    To be honest, what gave us the idea to write this article was asking ourselves the question “what did we both want to know when we started our very first businesses?” One thing was how to cope with negative feedback and put it to positive use. We’re glad you enjoyed it and it was useful to you. Hope you enjoy the rest of the season we’re writing over the coming weeks.

  • jbrycewilson

    A dumb and dumber quote, has to be a good article. I like the premise behind the article and the summaries of what no may mean. I would expand on the list however to include ways in which no are specific to the business itself. A lot of these nos deal with circumstantial factors surrounding an investment. A no could also mean substantive issues with a company. As an entrepreneur one should dig into tweaks they need to make so when all of the other factors line up, they can come off the starting blocks quickly.

  • susantok

    I think this is a very great article. A “no” can mean really a “no” or sometimes it also can mean “something else”. Something else may lead you into something bigger if you really want to find out. The last part of the article is quite funny too! Thank you!

  • Stephen Chandra Owen

    I really like the article!!! “No” is a powerful word. It can break your heart because of rejection and it can mean “you need to find out more”. I always try to learn what is wrong if someone rejected me and try not to do the same mistake. Great post!

  • Andrew Missingham

    This is a really good thought. Can you give some examples of ones you’re thinking about?

  • jbrycewilson

    Andrew, here are the two that I was thinking in my head. I feel like these situations, where the other factors line up, give a second shot at developing a solution on the spot that may keep an investor in the picture and maybe a yes in the future.

    “Not the solution” – You have identified a valid problem that consumers are demanding, but your product/service is not fully solving the issue”
    Ask what area of the issue the investor does not believe is being solved, and if the solution is completely off or just needs small adjustments.

    “Not the customer” – You have developed a solution that provides real world value, but you’re not targeting the correct customer.
    Ask what customers the investor is thinking of. Is it something you had no idea about, or one you eliminated early on in the business process because of data you identified. Maybe

    Probative questions in these areas offers fresh eyes on your company that may provide insight and direction that could offer better value and/or be more lucrative.

  • Connor Driscoll

    Thank you for posting this article! This is valuable to me as someone who understands the word “no” better than many. For example, I will often tell my siblings “not now” to their requests meaning that I will do them when I have time. However, they simply take it as a straight up “NO!” This is an article that is beneficial to me and likely will be to them as well when I share it with them. Andrew and Ben, why do you think so many people see “no’ as such a simple response when really it is such a complex term?

  • Andrew Missingham

    Nice. The only thing I’d add is that anticipated customer behaviour, based on a pre-launch proposition can differ greatly from the experience after launch Thanks for sharing, and thanks for your clarity. Very helpful!

  • Andrew Missingham

    Language is art, not an exact science. Also transmitting is very different from receiving. As George Bernard Shaw said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” !!

  • Anthony Putra

    Sometimes it is hard to gauge how good is our idea really is,
    Someone has convinced me to believe in myself, but how do we know that we are not blinded by the fact that we are convinced in a bad idea, blinded by the flaws and impossibility.
    And what if we gave up too soon for an actually good idea. That is the question I really want a definite answer to, but sadly, i believe there is no such thing as a definite answer to this question

  • Sara Sanchez

    This article gives more information on understanding those “no’s”
    that entrepreneurs receive when pitching their business plan. Especially if
    this was my first business plan pitch, I would be very nervous and vulnerable.
    When hearing “no”, I may feel discouraged and give up. However, by
    understanding the reasoning of the “no”, then I would feel more motivated to either work with that business person, improving my pitch or finding other potential
    investors. Thank you for the article!

  • Logan Dohmeier

    This is a great article that could take you many directions. I see a “no” as an opportunity to improve. Maybe you didn’t have the best pitch, or there was one bad idea that stuck with your listener and they reacted simply by not agreeing and “saying no”. Just because someone rejects an opinion, idea, or sales pitch, doesn’t mean you should give up. There are definitely circumstances where you will easily be able to identify that solid “no”, but in more cases than not it just means you may have to work harder. You could have 3 people in different companies that are all involved in the same type of business; does this mean that one pitch is going to work for all if it works for one of them? No! As this article describes, do your homework and find out who you are trying to reach out to on a more personal level and show them a strong sense of perseverance that they haven’t seen before. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

  • Kendra Larson

    This article gave me a lot of valuable information for future circumstances. I know some day when I get a good paying job, I am going to want to share some of my ideas with the rest of the staff. I found it very beneficial while reading through all the different ways that a person says “no”. It is true, that when I hear the word “no” I instantly think of rejection and I think most people would think that. But, like you said, it is important to listen and understand what the person means when they say no, because in some cases it may not be what we think. Have you ever witnessed? or been in the situation of a person telling you “no” about a pitch? And how did you react at first? Was it hard to accept? Thank you for sharing this article.

  • SamanthaSesnon

    I think this is a good reminder to listen to the reason behind the no. I think this also a good reminder to, once again, do your research before your pitch to see if you can do something before the actual pitch to turn that no into a yes.

  • Cassie135

    This is a great article. It really takes a negative (being said “no” to) and turned it into a positive. I think understanding peoples hesitations to saying “yes’ is very valuable and we can learn a lot from.

  • Jessica Walker

    This article was very interesting. A lot of times in life “no” is always seen as a negative. As soon as we hear that two letter word, we are turned off and let down. Although this may not always be the case, in fact it may be a glimmer of hope. I like the different examples you gave of what could be said and how to react to it. It is important to learn from mistakes, or “no’s” in this case. And not to just turn around with a frown on your face and a slump in your back. What is the harshest “no” you have ever received and how did you react to it?

  • Anthony Urbanski

    Good article, too many people take no as a final answer. People change their minds. You want to be persistent in your search for a yes but you can’t be to pushy. This is where the different meanings of “no” come into play. However I do think it is rather difficult to know what type of “no” you are getting. Do you have any way to determine it?

  • Amy Rink

    Thank you for posting this article! Usually when someone hears the word no they automatically jump to it being a negative response. After reading this article I have realized that by saying no it pushes people further to succeed. A lot of the time people don’t want to hear “no” and will do whatever they can to change their minds. I have now looked at what a “no” could really mean and in the business world it almost sounds better than a “yes”. My question is though, how did you come up with this concept? Did you have a personal experience that led you to this?

  • KevinThomson32

    Just for using Dumb and Dumber this article is awesome! I believe we have to go past the no and think of the reasons no is the answer. Once we come up with that I believe we have a good shot to change that persons mind by attacking the reasonings and making this into a yes.

  • Ben

    Hey Amy, great question! From our experience so far as a start up we have found that some of the people we have talked to about our business are very interested and excited about our offer but they can’t quite commit right away. This led them to saying ‘no’ in many of the ways we have listed. Whilst a ‘no’ might sound definitive what became clear is that they didn’t necessarily mean ‘no’ definitively. What they were trying to say was that there weren’t quite ready (for various reasons) to work with us at that point in time. Every time we received a ‘no’ we went back and discussed what it was that had led to that feedback and realised that it wasn’t because we were wrong in what we were offering, but more that they had multiple factors to consider before giving us a definitive ‘yes’. When we realised this it was clear that a ‘no’ shouldn’t lead us to think we were wrong but instead to figure out either how to change our pitch or equally how to find the right timing or context to deliver our pitch. It’s very easy for us as entrepreneurs to assume that making a decision is easy but often there are many factors outside of our line of sight that influence a prospective clients decision. If you can turn every ‘no’ into a learning experience it only makes you better at delivering your pitch to the next prospect.

  • katie bartlein

    I enjoy how this article breaks down the different kinds of ‘no’ and ways to get around them. Many people, like the article stated, hear no and immediately get discouraged. By learning the different meanings behind no, a person can continue to reach their goals by moving their way around that no. If a person started to accept ‘no’ on the first try, every time, many people starting businesses will fail. I also believe that by hearing no, a person gets motivated. I know that if I am working towards something I am passionate about, and gets shot down, I try harder. What types of ‘no’s’ have you heard and how did you work your way past them?

  • treehugger90

    I agree with you! I loved the Dumb and Dumber part as well. I like how you said changing the persons mind by attacking it with reasoning’s and making it into a yes. That is a perfect way of describing this article! Good post!

  • anp042

    Interesting take on “no’s”. I think what is more intriguing though are the things to be careful about when receiving a flat-out yes. I’ll forever be careful about my offering when I encounter a straight “yes” as an answer.

  • Keeli Gilbert

    Great view on “No’s.” I know my view on the word “no” has changed as I have grown and gone though the experiences I have. I mean, of course our view on this word will change as we grow up and mature, but my dad has always taught me that all you can do is ask, if you get “rejected” or the “no” word, just take it as a learning experience and build on it. If someone says no to a proposal to you new business, just think of it as it’s just not ready. Take what they say and do something better with it. Constructive criticism. We may not always like it, but some of us if not most of us need it in order to move on with something. I, in fact, love constructive criticism, don’t crush me and tell me what I did wrong, tell me what I did wrong follow up on what I can improve on, what can I do better next time. Great article! Thanks for the advice!

  • Jennifer Lynn

    I think we can take all of these “no” comments into consideration when talking about relationships or our family lives as well. We look at a not now as a maybe in the future or a not here as a lets meet up at a different time and place. I would challenge the readers of this post to think about all of the times they have heard the “no” comments in their lives and how they have reacted.

  • nguye107

    The article provides interesting view of what “no’s” from investors mean. Either a “yes” or a “no” from the investors requires understanding the value it can bring to our company. By realizing what the type of “No” it is, we can determine the questions we should ask the investors as well as appropriate decisions towards it.

  • Amanda Laatsch ?

    This article is great because it teaches you that just
    because you are hearing no, doesn’t mean you can’t get anything out of it. It
    shows the different scenarios and what you can take out of the “no” response. I
    think every entrepreneur, and also any person trying to pursue a career, can
    learn a lot from this article. My question is, how many times
    have you turned away from a “no” response right away instead of taking
    something from it.

  • cynthiapryor

    I agree that “No’s” can be clearer than “Yes’s”. I think that this is because people usually give a reason for a no: ‘not me’, ‘not now’, etc. When people say yes, they are so excited to get started, but are not very clear with what they are saying yes to.

  • weidmankl15

    This article definitely gave me some hope. I recently was told “no” on something that I thought I truly wanted. Now it’s been over a month, and that “no” led me to a greater thing! If that “no” would have never occurred, I wouldn’t be where I am today, so for that I am thankful. Clearly your examples of different ways of saying “no” must have come from a situation you had been involved in where you realized it was for the better?

  • Alexanderia Horton

    No’s also give you a lot to work with. If the no is a “not now”, you can work out another time. Once you have a yes, you just have to roll with it.

  • Kevin Weber

    This article shows great ways on how to handle the word no in different situations. Many of us tend to not listen once we hear the word no. We figure that since it wasn’t good enough for the listener, that no one will care. Asking why they gave you that answer can help you tremendously in figuring out how to make your pitch better. You will always face no’s in your life. You just have to accept it, learn from it, and become better and what it is you’re doing. I believe it’s key to ask your listeners politely on which direction you should head, and who would be interested in your idea. What was the biggest no you got in life and how did you handle it?.. Thanks for the post!!

  • Andrew Missingham

    Every one of these “no” responses comes from a real example. In every example we have used the “no” to improve our position, offer, pitch or thinking. BUT we had to learn to do this by a process. Like everyone, at first we let the “no” put us off or stop us. We had to get through this paralysis and learn what useful communication a “no” could hold.

  • Claudya Febriani

    A thorough explanation on a single word ‘no’. ‘No’ is not always a rejection that does not requires further analysis and explanations. We have to dig deeper, exploring what the investor really looking for, and trying to fulfill their needs.

  • Liemd

    It reminds me that learning from failures rather than success is more valuable. If we only know how to face success all the time, we will suffer even more when we face failure at one point. Therefore, I prefer some ‘no’s in the first place, figure the ‘why’s, and then hopefully some ‘yes’es to boost my morale.

  • mcniffm

    It’s interesting to hear their take on the word “no” especially because it is something you will definitely hear when working in business. I will definitely use this as reference in dealing with how to proceed with a situation when the word “no” comes into play.

  • Alyssa Borgrud

    This is very interesting. I agree that it is hard to be told no, and when we are told no it is easy to become discouraged. Especially in the business field, hearing a no can feel like we aren’t going to get anywhere. An example of this could be when when a business project doesn’t get good reviews and it gets a no for passing standards. What do you do when you personally get a no?

  • Janna Bartels

    Thank you for your post! I’m not in business, but I really enjoyed reading about how to take a positive spin on a seemingly negative response. I loved that every “no” can be a time for growth. I hope to use some of these suggestions in future interviews and jobs. What made you write this post? Have you always been able to stay positive and persistent?

  • ignatius epriladinata

    I really like this article that turn our point of view about
    “no” word. I always think that “no” is a negative thing; however, in your
    article you convey us that “no” means that there is a chance that you can get a
    yes answer if you can improve it. So, basically “no” means something that we
    have to work on harder or improve. Next time, if you do your first pitch and
    you get a “no” answer, you have to remember that there is still a chance that
    you could change that “no” word become a “yes” if you could improve it. So,
    don’t give up!!

  • Andrew Missingham

    Hi Janna. No, I haven’t always been able to stay positive – sometimes I get down trying to do something I care about. Have I always been able to persist? No to that too. Sometimes I’ve had to stop something I care about. But here’s the thing – sometimes what gets me down is persisting. Letting go and stopping a project can be sometimes be a real release, allowing you to look back, bank the learning, then move on.

  • Dinglin Wu

    This article is definitely helpful for my future endeavors. Instead of feeling rejected and discouraged, we need to find the underlying reason for the no and continue on.

  • Alex Szlamas

    I really enjoyed this
    article. It offers a great deal of insight and thought, as well as a great
    learning experience on the importance of rejection. Throughout my life, I have
    always feared that someone would say “no”.

  • Kent Foust

    Reading other people and understanding what they are saying is incredibly important. The other day a guest speaker I was listening to in class reminded us that just because someone is saying yes, doesn’t mean they are totally with you. They could just be agreeing in order to show that they are listening. People have different ways of communicating.

  • linhvu1411

    Interesting post! Thank you for all of this information. Most of us are afraid of rejection, of the “no”. However, thats the greatest source for us to improve and turn ourselves to be the better, greater. The “no” on the go is like the short break for us to lookback what’s wrong, whats needed to be improve and move on.

  • tjbaumeister08

    Thank you for sharing this. People shouldn’t be afraid of hearing “no.” Instead of letting it discourage them, they should take it as a learning experience. I’ve been applying and interviewing for internships and so far I haven’t heard a yes yet. It sucks to hear at first but then I just take it as a learning experience on what to be more prepared on and how I can be better for the next. Have you always taken hearing “no” as a positive thing or did it take some time for you to see it that way?

  • laurenkraft

    Thank you for this post. It was a good reminder not to let myself get down when I hear the word “no”. I like the concept of understanding what kind of no it is and then learning how to get the most out of it in order to achieve your goal. Getting down on yourself and giving up I believe is a popular reaction to people who hear the word “no” a lot. This article gave so many examples on how to turn a no into a positive in order for it to help you reach your goal. I loved the sense of humor in this article, how do you keep such a good attitude when you constantly are being told no?

  • justin bowers

    This article is great and I thank you for helping us determine what “no” can really actually mean. It’s important to learn from the reasons someone may have said no in the first place and build yourself up to make sure it will be a yes the next time. Hearing a no is only the beginning. How do you stay confident after hearing a no? Is there anything you do after the experience that helps with the process of remembering that it’s not the end?

  • DrivenbySuccess

    yes. I have a hard time taking a no sometimes as well as giving a no sometimes because its a natural thing to want to help someone and taking a no sometimes make you upset. Getting a no sometimes might actually be a goo thing because you need to get rejection sometimes to make you a better person.

  • Caitlin Donohue

    I’m telling you there’s a chance…that I really enjoy this article! This is VERY good advice and something that hasn’t even crossed my mind when I think about starting up a company; how to handle no’s. This advice is a great way to maintain composure and not take things personally when someone initially tells you “no.” I love the last bullet point of advice “Not ever!” Some business men and women would respect persistence and might eventually turn their “no” to a “yes.” Have you had successes with each of these tactics?

  • Drew Cox

    I agree you should never be afraid of no. When i hear the word No it makes me strive that much harder to gain the acceptance. Its like wanting what you cant have in my eyes! You have to fail so many times before you succeed and a noise a failure. So once you get the ok or yes its like a huge weight off your shoulder. Its the peace of mind! How do you react to the word no?

  • Leahrebout

    This was a great article! It shows that no doesn’t always necessarily mean no. It’s cool that there is usually something you can do in order to change their answer to a yes, you just have to work hard to get to that point. It is so easy to get discouraged when you hear the word “no” and just give up, but reading this gives the hope to keep trying. How many times did you hear the word no on the path to where you are now?

  • Brandon

    Thanks for the article!! when people hear “no” sometimes they think they get shut down right away and don’t be a afraid when you here just learn there are different kinds of “no”. People tend to give up when they hear “no” instead they should to keep moving on and achieve their goal.

  • reuhl42

    This article is awesome! There are so many ways that people can take criticism especially when they hear the word no or some form of someone saying no. In reality when you hear the word no it’s a chance to build up your idea even more and give you a chance to get more ideas together to make it a hundred times better than it was the first time you showed it to people. One question that I have is, how do you know when your idea is just not going to work at all? Is there a certain number of times you can hear the word no before you just give up? Thank you for this article.

  • schrammjm26

    I absolutely love everything about this article! I am in sales so I have been learning the best ways to overcome objections and the art of manipulating ones thoughts for my entire college career. A flat no simply wont do, there is a need that they have that has not yet been satisfied, your job is to find out what that need is and address it appropriately. This doesn’t just stop with business I use this kind of approach in every aspect of my life and have become known for getting people to see things from my perspective even though they believe it is for their benefit, which it is its just a matter of getting them to see it that way.

  • Tkachukme11

    Thank you for showing all the ways of saying no and also for using a line from Dumb and Dumber! I feel we are just so used to hearing “no” right away and immediately take it out on ourselves that we’re not good enough. We think our idea is dumb and just go right ahead and drop it. With these options, one can have a more positive outlook and even ask the company or investor which “no” it is so the individual can continue their dream. How many “no’s” do you need to hear though to finally realize that no one is going to invest?

  • PKroening

    Thanks for sharing! I really like the tie in of Dumb and Dumber. I think it is really important for people to know that there are different kinds of “no’s”. Getting over someone saying no is a really important thing to learn how to do. What do you think is the best way for someone to really just push aside a no and keep striving for your goal?

  • Steven Bichler

    Their are so many different ways to say the word no, and now I know what some of these others ways to say no mean so thanks for that. But how did you start to figure out what all these kinds of no’s mean? Because for me personally I didn’t really know the meaning for some of these so thanks for educating me on some of these.

  • Tim Rutkowski

    I absolutely love the Dumb and Dumber reference, the article relates well in addition. My question to Ben and Andrew; what inspired this article to come about it.

  • Max Rude

    I have heard the word no all my life. I understand that sometimes no means other things. If we stop at the word no we will never push the bounders of our future. The worlds history is written by people who did not accept no as an answer.

  • Branden Unger

    Thanks for the article! I really liked the advice given here, and the list of ways to deal with the different types of “no” is very interesting and can be very beneficial to many situations. I also liked the quote “Understand what kind of “no” it is, then learn how to get the most out of it in order to achieve your goal.” This quote is a great piece of advice and by using the list with it, it will be an effective way of achieving goals.

  • Andrew Missingham

    Yes we have, but let’s take a better example: James Dyson (the inventor of the eponymous vacuum cleaner) said that the very moment you think it’s time to give up, is the time to keep going. But this must not be blind faith. He kept moving in and kept learning – his production model was prototype 1531. That’s over 1500 “no” answers before he got his “yes”.

  • Andrew Missingham

    What inspired this article was the desire to share and talk about a natural part of starting any ambitious endeavour. We’re less than a month into our new business. We’ve already heard “no” plenty of times (in fact, I’m bracing myself for one today). This article aims to explore How can we, and you, keep going in the face of thee knocks?

  • DuCharmeDR11

    I think this is a valid article because so much of the time we learn our most valuable lessons from failure. And the the best part is, a “no” does not necessarily mean failure, but it is nice to think of it as a prolonging of achieving something. Life is a process of learning how to get better everyday. Not getting the results we want immediately is sometimes the kick in the butt we need. How are your reactions going to explain your character today?

  • Mcgrailkk30

    This is an excellent response! Sometimes getting a straight “yes” is just too easy and we don’t learn from it. It may be discouraging to be told “no” at first, but when you discover what kind of “no” it really is you are presented with a wonderful opportunity for growth. As you said, the majority of our growth and development comes from learning from our mistakes. If you can change your frame of mind to look at these rejections in a positive light your product or business will prosper. Would you agree?

  • Caitlin Donohue

    Wow, I had no idea his production model was only a prototype in 1531. That is quite a long time to be persistent! That absolutely proves your point though! That’s also great advice: to keep going when you think it’s time to give up. I’m definitely going to keep that in mind!

  • DuCharmeDR11

    I would definitely agree that the attitude you portray towards others can make or break an opportunity. When we stop, listen, and give people the time of day to share their opinions, a whole scope of ideas flourishes, and we can learn a lot from that. One of our goals should be to see criticism from others as constructive, and stop automatically getting defensive, because there is always room for improvement. The saying two heads is better than one rings true, because when we add perspectives, we are able to engage in a wider variety of people and can relate on a broader spectrum. How are you going to be vulnerable today?

  • DrivenbySuccess

    I like this article because I have problems with these type of things all the time because when people say no to me I hesitate to keep asking because I don’t want to be forceful and it discourages me from going after what I want. As DuCharmeR11 says below that “no” does not always mean failure but it can also mean that you have someone thinking about your proposition. This is a great lesson to people that have trouble getting things because they take the first no they get.

  • Mcgrailkk30

    I agree when facing a “no” we have to develop a bit of though skin and take the criticism for what it’s worth. The criticism itself must be constructive though. The way it is framed and the tone of voice the other party uses impacts how the criticism is viewed as well. In education they say that you should always give a strength with a weakness and I think that’s a pretty good strategy. Even if the idea or business is terrible, was the person passionate or could you tell they are loyal and dedicated? By identifying the strengths as well you are making the criticism constructive. Would you agree?

  • Marian326

    Great article! Thank you! I have spent many years in sales, and I understand the value of knowing which “no” someone is giving you. I also appreciate the information that you provided with each kind of “no” you shared.
    Is there ever a wrong time to give your pitch?

  • pinsolera

    Thank you for posting this article. I like how in this article, there are different connotations for “no” and how to work around them. Especially for anyone in sales, this is a great place to start and use this advice to advance profit.

  • treehugger90

    I agree with you! I also think this is a great place to start and use for advice! I also like how there were different variations of no because no is said so many different ways and sometimes people don’t even realize it.

  • Frank_Stanek

    So many different “no’s” to keep track of it’s like learning a new language. I definitely have had my fair share of someone telling me “no” in my life and it really can be a frustratingly vague process trying to decipher what they really were saying. Then again sometimes “no” really just means I am not interested. So confusing.

  • Cory Zaeske

    There are a lot of ways that the word “no” can be portrayed. Along with there being a variety of ways to be portrayed, most of the time it is taken as just no. I like this post because it really makes you think about what “no” your superior is talking about. Some people may give up when they hear “not yet” but that just means they need a little more! Don’t just give up unless you continually hear no!

  • Tyler Russell

    Great read! I think that there is not enough “no” in the world when we are growing up. We get used to hearing “yes” more than hearing “no”. but in the end if someone should have said “no” and says “yes”, that is a disservice to both. Even though it is hard to hear a no can lead you to work harder, think of the problem in a different light, change paths, or any number of outcomes that will benefit you in the long run. A simple yes can have the opposite impact, leading you down the wrong path. This article does a great job highlighting how valuable all kinds of “no” can be.

  • Glassborow

    This is a great article, it’s great to know what people mean when they say no, and how there are so many different meanings – which may or may not be a good thing. Even though being told no isn’t a nice feeling, it’s good to know that this doesn’t mean you need to stop working hard, and give up, you might just need a little bit more time!

  • Alex Prailes

    This is a perfect example on how failure can be a good thing. “No” can mean so many different things and have so many different reasons as to why. Just because it’s usually looked at as a negative word doesn’t mean that it’s negative. There is always room for improvement, and receiving a no just allows you to know exactly where to improve.

  • orvisbj27

    Great article! Often when my idea or concept gets rejected I have in turn abandoned a project only to bring up later to find success. It is funny how the same idea could be brought to an investor one week to be laughed only. Then the same idea can be brought months later in a slightly different context and delivery only to pounced on by every near Shark investor.

  • He feeds the eels, they come up out of the water and you can pat the eels – apparently, I haven’t tried. (But) when I mentioned this to people thinking it was quite unusual, they said, ‘yes, I do that’.

  • JeremyWahl

    this is a great example of how failure might not be as bad as we think. no has always been a negative word and we all dread hearing it because it goes with failure. hearing no is bad but how you react to hearing it is also important. sometimes negative feedback helps people know exactly where they are.

  • Bgreenwell686

    Well done! I agree with you that “No” is not really that bad of a thing in the right context. In the nature of continuous improvement, knowing the differences between the kind of “No” you’re getting is a big opportunity to learn from previous attempts, ask more questions to clearly identify the impediments, and course correct to get the answer you were looking for…at least some time down the road. Cheers

  • Jessica Peardon

    I have gotten these responses multiple times and I’m glad I read this article. It makes me look at the situation in a different light. I also agree with you that sometimes we need to ask for feedback. We can’t just walk away embarrassed and expect the same situation to not happen.

  • gaulrappkj17

    This article made me laugh! It is so interesting how we struggle with saying what we mean. I am so guilty of this! When I say no, how often do I actually say no, not at this time, or no, not that much. I rarely say those things, its just a “no”. However, if I actually used more than just a no, I would be far better off in my relationships and possible new employers. Good article to make you think!

  • milkienr18

    This article really actually applies to me. I work at the call center on my campus and I hear the word NO more times a day than I can count on my hands. However, you need to listen to the kind of response they give you because sometimes is just the level you are asking and if you lower it or give more information the NO turns into a YES. I also like how this article said that sometimes getting a YES right away is not as beneficial as having to work to change someone from a NO to a YES.

  • FalkinerRR23

    being told “no” allows you to go back to the drawing board and figure out what you can make changes too or add to make that “no” turn into a hopeful yes

  • Julia

    As a child, I got told “no” a lot. I hated it. I knew what no meant, but I didn’t understand what else it could mean. I just looked at it as negative. As I grow older, I’m starting to realize there are many ways to mean no. As mentioned in this article, if you say no, do you mean just not now? Or not ever? There can be many ways to interpret it. Honestly, I prefer not to use the word no because I believe naturally people take it in a negative way, even though that’s not what you mean.

  • Desiree

    I like how this is about not giving up and if you get turned down for whatever reason to push and try again and be better then you were the first try. I also like how you explained what the NOs meant because I always thought that a no was just no and they were different ways to bring you down nicely but its reassuring to look at things in many perspectives

  • afallon14

    Working in customer service, I hear the word “no” a lot and I just have to accept it. I can get turned down for helping a customer when they first walk in the store, but sometimes I continue to ask them how they are doing in hopes of them warming up and being successful in communicating with them. Obviously people interpret “no” in different ways and for some people after that they push harder, or they just give up.

  • Paige Cuchna

    I can relate to this a lot. I used to work in customer service and in the beginning I would get not mad but almost annoyed when people would say “no” to me after asking if they needed help. After a while like you said, you do get use to it and frankly if someone doesnt want your help then there is nothing you can do.

  • Tom Ashmus

    I love the idea of what type of no it is. People hear no and they instantly think that they failed. But there still always a chance. I have seen on shark tank many times where the guys tell them no, and then they keep and talking and a minor detail about the business changes their entire viewpoint of their investment.

  • Tom Ashmus

    When I read this I didn’t really think about they customer service side of it because you are right. I have been in a store, they guy asked if I needed his help, I said no, and as I walked around he came back again and said “are you sure” and I then said yea ok. Something such as my location in the store changed my mind.

  • Tom Ashmus

    I agree with you, negative feedback is always more helpful than positive feedback. It gives you a better idea on ways to improve rather what is already right. When saying no, that could mean your idea or product could just use a little more work.