Don’t Take No Answer for a “No”

Johnny was in love, but for a year he kept his affections secret from Sarah, the object of his affections who he assumed viewed him as a friend. Then one day, he worked up the courage to text her. Sure, he should have called, but he was just too nervous. So instead he texted “I don’t want to wreck our friendship, but I like you much more than a friend. Could I take you to dinner next week?”

Three days went by. No answer.

Then a week. No answer.

He gave up, too embarrassed to say anything to Sarah. Eventually she grew tired of wishing that he would ask her out, and started dating someone else.

You see, Johnny texted the number 243-3433.

Sarah’s number is 234-3444. She never saw his text.

This happens ALL the time. It happens in personal relationships, sales calls, job searches, and every other type of human interaction.

There are dozens of reasons why you might pitch an idea, invite someone out, share a piece of wisdom, ask for help, or try to close a sale… and get NO answer. Here are a few:

  • The person is on vacation
  • Their email or voicemail is full
  • Your message was jumbled
  • Their reply is stuck in Drafts
  • They need to ask someone else, who hasn’t replied
  • They forgot
  • They got fired, or quit, or sick, or… kidnapped by the circus

Remember this: It is never pushy to follow-up.

In fact, the opposite is true. Following up shows that you care. It proves you believe in what you put forward and that you are interested in expanding your relationship.

So whenever you seek an answer from someone, set a reminder for yourself. How long will you wait for a reply before you follow-up? Whatever your answer, put it on your calendar as soon as you reach out. Otherwise, you may forget.

By the way, there are many ways to do this. You don’t have to simply repeat the question again, as in, “I’m just following up to see if you want to go ahead with renovating your kitchen?”

Instead, you can ask a related question, or make a new offer. To continue this example, the salesperson might say that “we just took extensive pictures of two of our recent renovations… would you like to come in and take a look?”

When you try again, do your best to be helpful, rather than overly aggressive. Assume the other person is interested, but busy. Or maybe they are on the fence, but open to persuasion.

If you assume the positive, you’ll keep your attitude positive… and the other person will pick up on this. But if you assume no answer means no, then they’ll pick up on that, too.

Most of us lead busy, complicated lives. Cut the other person some slack, and be patient but persistent.

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