On occasion, my brother-in-law and I get to thinking about the same topic. His venue is a weekly sermon often linked to the Torah portion, while mine is the classroom and the blog. I had much fun talking with him last week as he wrote his sermon “Can You Grow From a No?” and I am delighted to link to his full sermon from two weeks ago in which I am the obliquely-referenced sister-in-law. As he said,
To be human is to be in constant negotiation with other people, and those negotiations will either end in “yesses” or in “no’s.” And because we have needs, because we know what we think we want, because we are vain and have egos, we want those exchanges to end with a “yes.” We want our cravings to be met, our opinions proven true and our positions affirmed. A “yes” brings satisfaction. Our will has prevailed, our efforts have paid off, our selves have been validated. A “yes” means we were right.
“No’s” are less fun. “No’s” signal defeat. When someone tells us “no,” we feel a little piece of us die. We are bruised and we are hurt, diminished in the eyes of others and in our own eyes.
But here is the thing. Since our lives are filled with negotiation, we all know that “no’s” await us all; they lurk right around the corner for each of us. So the question isn’t how to avoid them; they are inevitable. The question is, how do we respond to them when they happen? Which leads us back to my original question: “Can you grow from a ‘no?’”
Both of our answers are undoubtedly “yes,” and his sermon is quite eloquent in all the ways that hearing “no” can make us stronger. As for me, I would argue that negotiation theory shows us the usefulness of hearing “no.” No’s can make us more creative, no’s can make us step back and rethink, no’s can enourage us to bring in other opinions about how to get something done. I truly believe that the most effective negotiators not only know how to get to yes, they realize that the pathway to yes might be strewn with no’s along the way.
Cross posted at Indisputably.