Second best answer to yes is no

I’ve seen this theme come up recently a lot in talks with entrepreneurs trying to raise money, or trying to sell their product. A ton of time is spent working with the investor or possible client, and the discussion ends up going nowhere. Cycles are lost, people are rejected without knowing why, and everyone gets frustrated.

I’m a big believer in honesty about what I’m thinking and feeling, and that includes saying no. In any discussion, the second best answer to yes is NO. Silence is the worst thing you could ever do to someone. I’m not sure why people feel the need to go silent when they really want to say no. Is it that we as a culture like to avoid conflict? We don’t like to let people down or disappoint? What is it about that two letter word that is so scary?

I say that as investors, parents, friends, colleagues, bosses, whatever your role, we all practice saying no – but give reasons why. It’s no fun to be rejected, but at least when armed with the reasons why, we can improve our pitch, product, stance, opinion, whatever the question. In this scenario we all win. The askee isn’t continually bugged with a proposition, the asker can improve the ask and simultaneously move on quickly to other prospects. It saves time, frustration, and feelings.

Don’t be afraid of saying no. But do so with support and information, and we all win.