Archive for the ‘No’ Category

Service of Ducking a Request for a Loan

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

I’ve written here about the pitfalls of lending money since 2010. In “The do’s and don’ts of lending money,” on NPR, I was most interested to focus on the part of Andrew Limbong’s article where he addressed how to say “no.”

He also mentioned the usual—best to give the money as a gift as, in the first place, you shouldn’t lend money that you can’t afford to lose.

The pundits he spoke with warned not to co-sign a loan either.

I loved the anecdote he shared about Michelle Singletary who had asked her grandmother to co-sign a car loan. Singletary, a personal finance columnist for The Washington Post, was a fledgling journalist at the time. Grandmother said: “Let me get this straight. So the bank, which has way more money than I do, turned you down? Now you want to put my finances on the line?” Singletary said she took the bus and saved “until I could save up enough to get the loan.”

She added that if you co-sign, “it also means that the debt is on your credit profile. That could prevent you from getting a loan or make the loan you need more expensive.”

What if you can’t afford to give money to the person asking for a loan? Limbong wrote: Offer other ways to help, say our experts…. If someone is coming to you for money, it probably wasn’t their first option. They’re probably in a bad situation and don’t see any other way out. They’re vulnerable. And your turning them down is going to hurt.”

Instead of giving money one expert helped the family member draft spreadsheets and created an action plan for repaying debt. Other ideas ranged from pitching in with childcare so the person can work more shifts to “offering to bring them dinner.”

I’m not sure about the dinner idea. I’ve just asked you for $5,000 and you offer to bring me a meal? Hmmmm.

If the cause is serious a better idea might be to help establish and promote a plea on a crowdfunding platform such as GoFundMe.

There are countless examples of friendships broken once the dynamic between two people changes to lender and borrower. But refusing money ends up in the same place. I’ve had to turn people down because I couldn’t give them anywhere near the amount of money they wanted and further, I knew that this would not solve their problem and it would be only the first of many future requests as they showed no plan to address the cause of the financial leak.

What words would you choose to turn down a request for a loan? Are there people to whom you would lend money in a second?

Service of When “No” Doesn’t Need to be “No”

Thursday, February 15th, 2024

Image of bar stool by Daria Nepriakhina from Pixabay

A rule stickler

An out-of-town acquaintance in her 50s went to a favorite restaurant in NYC near her hotel.  It was late and the moderately expensive restaurant wasn’t full. She asked the hostess if she could sit at a table and the 20-something told her that because she was alone, she could either sit at the bar or in the lounge. She chose the bar even though she doesn’t drink.

She returned for dinner the next night asking a different hostess, an older woman, if she could sit at the bar and the woman asked, “would you prefer to sit at a table?” Hmmm.

Administrator will determine when your appointment will be–not you

At almost the same time another friend got a call that his imminent cataract surgery was rescheduled for a month away. He wanted it over with. He tried to persuade the receptionist to do better. “Not possible,” she said.

During his lunch break he walked over to the doctor’s office and one of the technicians measured his eye and did the pre-op procedure and rescheduled him for two weeks away. He learned that something had come up for the doctor the day he was originally to be operated on.

Is a declaration of “no” and inflexibility a sign of power for some? Do you push back when you hear “no?” Has “no” turned to “yes” more times than not?

Service of I Refuse

Monday, August 7th, 2023


Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

For at least two years the topic of high-profile people refusing to do what a boss or superior has asked of them has been bandied about dinner tables nationwide. We’ve seen examples of vibrant lines in the sand.

A colleague was approached to market a powerful organization he didn’t approve of. The accompanying fee was juicy yet he passed without regret. I’ve refused to do things asked by clients, bosses and high-powered acquaintances. “Big deal,” you say. That’s because you’re not a people pleaser. Those who succeed in service businesses usually are. My husband often wondered aloud how I could take some of the things that crossed my path in my PR role. He felt plenty of pressure in his work but the difference was that folks wanted what he was selling. He was an international banker.

Someone asked me to share insider information that the agency I worked for had access to. That was easy if awkward. I just glared and didn’t answer. In another instance, a client ordered me not to go to the press room to greet the editors and reporters I’d invited to his event. It was the most flagrant of many disagreements between us. A whistle blower told me this client signed my name to material I’d not written and distributed it. I resigned that account.

When in the days of mailing press kits a boss told me to follow up by “calling all media we haven’t heard from to learn if they received the package.” I never did. I thought, “That’s what return addresses are for and a busy person doesn’t want to hear that stupid question.” If there was important new information to share, that was a different story.

One boss, trying to save money, told me to use a line drawing from a book to accompany press materials. She’d deleted the credit I’d placed by the image. After a brief discussion I suggested we remove my name as a contact on the press releases. The drawing/book credit remained as did my name as contact. Another time I argued against a special activity in conjunction with an event proposed by a client. The activity remained on the schedule but appeared in none of the press materials I’d written. The client approved them all.

Nobody lives or dies as a result of all but one of my protests or silence. Imagine the potential risk if you disagree with policy and you are an air traffic controller, surgeon, emergency room doctor, nurse, pilot, medical researcher, teacher or politician to name a few essential occupations.

Are there instances in which you have drawn a line in sand and refused to answer a question or to do something that didn’t seem right even if a boss has ordered it? Are there examples in which you give a pass to someone who goes against their better judgment and follows a boss or client’s faulty instruction?


Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay  

Service of “No” IV

Monday, May 1st, 2023


Image by SplitShire from Pixabay 

I haven’t picked up on the “No” series since April 2014. It was time. It’s a word often said or implied but one that should be challenged.

Afterall, we were brought up with the proverb “when at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” weren’t we?

Boost Your Communications Please

My doctor recommended I get the most recent Covid booster available for people 65+, those with diabetes, immunocompromised etc., so I tried to make an appointment on the Walgreens site from my phone and after punching in my zip code learned that I’d have to go to Elmira, N.Y. to get it. That’s 240 miles from me.

I dropped by my local Duane Reade. It’s part of the Walgreens family. The pharmacist told me it would be a few weeks and said none of the Manhattan stores would offer it.

On arrival home, I went online from my laptop. I immediately snagged an appointment for the next day, a Saturday—any number of times were free at a Duane Reade also a few blocks from me. I was prepared to be on a false errand, but I got the booster at 11:30 a.m. as requested.

Deli Delight

On Saturday I ordered sandwiches online from Sarge’s for an ungodly price and chose a pickup time of 11:20 a.m. and arrived precisely then. I was told “15 to 20 minute wait.”

That didn’t suit me. Apart from it being a tiny, overcrowded place with nowhere to wait—it was pouring outside, and I was drenched already–I had somewhere to be and a hard deadline was involved. The restaurant was full and there was only one sandwich man. I ignored the dismissive woman and approached another employee with a worried expression on my face and explained I had to be somewhere and voila! He looked for my order, spoke with the sandwich man who turned to my request.

They’d run out of dark meat turkey, and I wasn’t warned when I placed the order. But that’s another story.

Tour Trouble

After researching the tour options and reading reviews I picked one. But it wouldn’t let me sign on for a single reservation. Surely, that was a mistake. Whether I used my laptop, iPhone or iPad I could only add to the 2 reservations frozen on the form. Discouraged, because I didn’t want to go with 50 others, I finally found one for a small group and the order for one went through! But it took persistence and time.

Plus ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose

This is nothing new. I encountered “No” frequently in the day when I was an Air Force wife at an overseas post. That’s where I cut my teeth rebutting the many rejections I’d get to my queries. Eight out of 10 times if I returned to the office or service that was turning me down, or tried another tack, I’d get my wish.

What hasn’t changed

It surprised me then as it does now why people or systems make a person go through a rigamarole to get what they want. Just say “yes” or do what you should or what people want in the first place.

When faced with “NO,” what’s your response?


Image by Frauke Riether from Pixabay 

Service of Being a Good Customer

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

I imagine that pushy, over demanding customers think that this is the only way to get the best service. The obnoxious approach might work on the spot at retail or in a restaurant because sales and restaurant staff want to avoid a noisy tantrum that would make other customers uncomfortable and spoil their experience.

Be ugly enough and the sales person might remember you and see that you wait next time or disappear in the storage room as you approach. The busy restaurant may have a waiting period of an hour for the loudmouth; ten minutes for everyone else.

We’ve all known—or observed–people who feel that they can treat another person abominably because they are paying for a service or because they think that they are important and deserve subservience. In a conversation about such people a friend, with a topnotch reputation in a technical field, said that she wouldn’t stay a half hour overtime for a nasty client even if her boss agreed to pay her a substantial sum. At the same time, she’d stay even longer for a lovely person, even if the boss said that there couldn’t be an extra cent in it for her because he wasn’t charging the customer for overtime, because she was down on her luck.

Have you been in the enviable position of being able to give a nasty client/customer short shrift? Do you think pushy, entitled, aggressive behavior wins in the end?

Service of No III

Monday, April 28th, 2014

I’ve covered this powerful two letter word from the viewpoints of saying and hearing it. This time I’m addressing people unable to absorb the concept.

It’s a Landslide

Take the citizens of Oso, Wash. who built homes where they were told not to because the area was a potential landslide zone. Build they did, the horrific natural disaster happened and now we read headlines such as “Leveled by Landslide, Towns Mull How to Rebuild” datelined Oso. I scratch my head.

Can’t Top This

The old saw about climbing Mt. Everest because it is there has a questionable ring to it after 16 sherpas died in an avalanche. Some love taking risks. I get my thrills from juggling too much work and meeting deadlines, so I don’t relate to the need to put my life in jeopardy to feel alive. I’m glad the sherpas are on strike, closing down mountain climbing for the season, although I don’t think better benefits and pay can mitigate the potential of death for a frivolous cause.

Trying to Be Cool Can Kill

I landed on an obituary for a 37 year old Wikipedia editor who died from head injuries in a rock climbing accident in Joshua Tree National Park. Adrianne Wadewitz had only begun the sport “in the past couple of years.” What was this brilliant scholar of 18th century British literature trying to prove? According to Noam Cohen who wrote her obituary in The New York Times, she “became one of the most prolific and influential editors of the online encyclopedia.” Cohen wrote: “She described the thrill of creating ‘a new narrative’ about herself beyond that of a bookish, piano-playing Wikipedia contributor.” What a terrible loss. Maybe there were more sensible, 30-something appropriate ways of doing this.

Didn’t Like You Then, Won’t Like You Now

Rob Walker counseled Laurie in his “The Workologist” column in the New York Times Business section. She had asked for a reference from a former boss with whom she didn’t get along figuring enough water had passed under the bridge since they’d worked together. Laurie was surprised by the unenthusiastic recommendation [which she learned about when she didn’t get the job]. What happened to her “no” reflex, when going through the list of potential candidates to ask for a recommendation. Laurie claimed to have “28 years experience in [her] field and a strong track record.” Apparently common sense isn’t necessary in her line of work.

Can you share similar examples? What is it that inhibits the “no” or “not a good idea” response in some especially when there are so many other more sensible options?

Service of No II

Monday, March 31st, 2014

I previously covered the subject of no from the point of view of how to bounce back after hearing the word.

It takes equal skill for some to say it. I’m one of those who often fail. For one, because I so rarely do, nobody believes me. I also think that being in a service business I find ways to compromise when a client over-demands [with no intention of paying more], negotiating a plan that works for both.

But this spirit of cooperation doesn’t serve me well when I pile on obligations I could live without because I’ve not said “no.”  Because I’m an efficient juggler, someone with energy and a workaholic, I’ve been weak too often. Yet there are times I must disappoint.

Some of the tips Elizabeth Bernstein covered in her Wall Street Journal article “The Right Answer is ‘No’” is a start to reformation. She suggests rehearsing; having at hand a generic “I’ll think about it” statement if surprised; delaying response and being mindful of your tone when saying the dreaded word–keep it pleasant.

In a sidebar “Set Boundaries” she suggests “Blame outside circumstances or a prior commitment.” She warns that you should “avoid implying your obligations are superior to the other person’s request.” Unless the other appointment was to go window shopping with a local friend or something as frivolous, I disagree with this rationale. You have already said “yes” to a prior business or personal appointment so why set yourself up to disappoint and having to say “no” to the first person? Why even get into the specifics with Number 2?

Bernstein adds that you should repeat the refusal “so the other person gets the message,” and “resist the temptation to add ‘Maybe next time’–unless you mean it.”

What works for you?

Service of No

Monday, March 11th, 2013

I interviewed a crack salesperson and a busy, flourishing actor to discover how they seem to be unaffected when they hear “no” in the course of their day.

If, like me, you consider the hardest part of the new business search the dusting oneself off from a harsh “no,” you, too will also be interested in learning how they motivate themselves to do what I consider the second hardest part—the follow up after the initial outreach.

A Good Deal

“I used to take ‘no’ personally,” Vicki Noble** told me, “but I don’t anymore.” [**This is not her real name.]

She’s been in the fashion business for 30 years selling embellishments, such as buttons, buckles and labels—even distinctive packaging that she designs–to manufacturers and retailers. The companies she represents are part of a team that a designer assembles to distinguish lingerie, shirts, dresses, sweaters—you name it. “Details are a critical part of a brand,” she’ll tell you.

“Most often,” said Noble, “the reasons people don’t want to give me a hearing and my sample books a viewing has nothing to do with me. Some are happy with the status quo and their current vendors. I understand loyalty. Yet they don’t realize that they owe it to their brand to see what’s new and out there. Others don’t want to rock the boat in this shaky economy. You can’t blame them; it’s not a good time for risk-taking.”

Do you go back if someone says ‘no?’

“You always go back because a manufacturer or retailer might suddenly be unhappy with their current supplier. You don’t want to be so annoying that a potential client sees your email and hits ‘delete.’

“I communicated with a woman who works for a major brand who asked if I represented any company that made ornamentation in Bangladesh. I didn’t at the time. I recently followed up to tell her about a company that was setting up there and she invited me in for a meeting.”

How many times do you follow up after hearing “no?” “You never give up.”

Are you by nature a hopeful person? “Yes. You have to be hopeful in life. If you’re not, what is there?  Don’t get me wrong, I get discouraged, but it only lasts for so long.”

How do you get yourself to pick up the phone to follow up when you are not in the mood? “A lot of communication is done via email rather than by phone these days so if you don’t hear back, which happens most of the time, no harm done and if the answer is “no,” an email often muffles a rejection. Everyone is so busy but people do read emails. Have you noticed how people never put down their phones?”

The Show Goes On With or Without You

MoniqueSanchez1Next I spoke with Monique Sanchez, an actor.

When you hear “no” what makes you go on?  “In terms of acting, you don’t hear ‘no’ very often; you just don’t hear anything. It’s not personal. If they are not interested in you they have decided well before you open your mouth. It has little to do with your talent.

“I grew up in a Cuban family with two brothers. My entire life my parents told me I couldn’t do anything because I was a girl. Basically when you tell me ‘no,’ I take it as ‘You want to bet?’ I’ve learned early on, not only can I do it, I have to do it better than the boys.”

If a director and/or casting director has previously rejected you, are you reluctant to return for an audition? “Usually it’s not a problem unless something has happened to make it one, such as if they go out of their way to be nasty.

“I had an audition for Dracula. When I walked in the director made a comment about my height which I’ve learned means I’m not a contender. Ten seconds into the monologue he interrupted me and asked me to tell a joke, which I had to come up with on the fly. Then he asked me to recite movie quotes from memory. I knew he wasn’t’ going to hire me, he just wanted me to entertain him. I won’t return for an audition if that person is involved.

“However if a director gives me good feedback, I’ll surely go back.”

Monique Sanchez2Do actors follow up? “You are supposed to follow up because directors meet so many actors daily. Actors have the narcissism to think they are special and that they stand out but you need to follow up. It’s important to show that others want you –the people you consistently reach out to will want you too.

“Following up is time-consuming, like another job. Most directors don’t want to get email; they want a postcard which includes a headshot with info like ‘This is what I’m working on….I’d love to come and read to you sometime.’ They prefer that you don’t call unless they establish that you can.”

Are you an optimistic person? “Normally yes, though too many unfortunate things have happened to me in the last five months.”

In sales and acting, following up by telephone seems to be largely off the table while it’s part of what I must do with media a business prospects.

Do you prefer to be emailed or called in follow-up? What do you think is the most effective way to sell yourself, a product or service–phone, email or direct mail? How is it in your industry? Have you developed techniques that help you accept “no” gracefully so you can move on right away?

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