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Monday, 23 January 2017 03:20

Why is ‘no thanks’ so blo^&dy hard?

Hands in the air if someone has not got back to you when they should have?  It may have been a job you applied for; an invitation to an event or party; asking someone out on a date (insert awkward face here); and my pet peeve - a client not getting back to you after you’ve worked on a proposal for them – that they asked for.  Breathe Georgia. 

Not getting back to people when we should.  Call me old school but I would suggest it’s just good manners.

My second job fresh out of university was with a global HR provider Morgan and Banks.  I was an Executive Recruitment Consultant.  I was so impressive with myself at the time.  ‘I’m an executive now’!  But little did I know that the glam life of meeting and schmoozing clients would be a small percentage of the gig.  Upon reflection, I would say my expertise was to become ‘the art of rejection’. 

You’d be lucky to place 3-4 people in a new job per week so the rest of the time was mostly time spent telling people they were not successful.  Or that there is nothing appropriate to put them forward for.  I found this so hard in the early days and would avoid the bad news phone calls

What I quickly learnt was that, the issue did not go away and it was the fast lane to pissing people off if you did not get back to them.  And then when you did, if you gave them the generic ‘someone else was better suited to the role’ line, you damaged all the good work you did establishing the relationship in the first place.  I bet many of you have been on the receiving line of this yeah?!

When we avoid giving bad news, James Sheppard, a psychology professor from the University of Florida calls this ‘information avoidance’. He says that we are exceptionally good at this whole avoidance thing.  There are several reasons for this;

  • We don’t like delivering bad news. We are worried it will upset the other party and/or us in doing so.  It makes sense that we want to keep things ‘peaceful and happy’.
  • We don’t know how to say it for it be received as well as possible. This is again a valid reason.
  • We stick to what we know. If we believe it won’t matter whether we give the news or not, then we will believe ourselves.
  • We value ourselves over others. That is, how we feel matters more than getting back to someone else. Ouch!

What I love seeing, time and time again, is that when people are taught how to give bad news well, it actually builds trust and respect.  It does not damage it.  People rate others when they deliver bad news well.  They know it is so hard and they respect the fact you’ve done it.

Let me give you the 5 top tips to make it as easy as possible;

  1. Preparation is important and doesn’t need to take that much time.
  2. Ground it in facts and evidence. Give them the detail about why it is a no. You only need 1-2 points to make it valuable feedback.
  3. Have the courage to be honest but do it without the assassination. If the proposal wasn’t good enough, or you don’t think they are the best cultural fit – tell them why. Let them know so they really understand.
  4. Avoid the ‘cop out’ response. That is, the one you give everyone.  It’s not you, it’s me kinda thing.  We read through those and we don’t like them.
  5. Offer some advice for the future. I hardly ever hear someone saying ‘no thanks’ I don’t want your advice about how I can set myself up or the business for the future.

And above all. Don’t delay!  Do it now!  I know that makes it 6 tips, but I’m writing this so I can make up the rules.

People hear your content and smell your intent.  If your intent is good, that is, to let them know coz it’s the right thing to do, then they remember that long after the content.

Aside from all of that.  It’s just the right thing to do!

If you want to learn how to deliver bad news well and create great feedback cultures please download my white paper; ‘Feedback Cultures are Game Changers’.  Or to receive Georgia’s blogs on a weekly basis subscribe here.

Last modified on Monday, 23 January 2017 03:28

About Georgia

Georgia is obsessed with the power of great communication. She knows how great communication leads to great collaboration and helps create outstanding cultures.


Email: niki@georgiamurch.com

Phone: 0402 119 333

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