I hear it all the time.
“They aren’t interested.”
“They don’t think I can do the job.”
“They clearly have chosen someone else.”
Whether you are selling a product or service to a customer or an idea to your company’s senior executives the no reply isn’t about you. When we send an email, offer a proposal, suggest an idea, whenever we reach out we are putting not only our ideas but our egos on the line. We are saying, “Please accept me. Like me. Give me some sign that I am worthy.”
The problem is that no matter how worthy your idea or product may be, you are one of about 1,000 people/emails/ideas/stimulus that your customer is sifting through every day.
And the easiest response to all that stimulus is to kick the can. Press delete. Assume it will go away. Take care of something else that is more demanding.
If you want to be in the running, you often need to be demanding. If they haven’t responded it’s not because they aren’t interested. In all likelihood they are just busy.
So if you want to stand out, don’t disappear. Don’t assume they aren’t interested. Email again. Call again. Ask again. Pop your name back in their inbox. Twice. Three times. In fact, as many times as it takes.
Your ego wants you to avoid the rejection and keep quiet. But your success is calling. And it requires you to persist and remember, when they don’t reply, it’s not about you.
What is the #1 impediment to getting better? To seeking, hearing, and appreciating feedback?
Answer: Your ego convincing you that you should feel ashamed for not being perfect.
Your ego needs are incredibly important to understand. You may think you have a big ego or not. Doesn’t matter. Your ego drives your behavior. It craves recognition.
How do I know?
I recognize that I have a big ego (something I’m working on). I don’t think my wife has that same affliction. Yet we both do the same thing. See if you recognize this behavior pattern if you have a spouse and kids:
- Your spouse asks a remarkably simple question, one that you clearly know the answer to.
- You proudly offer the answer to your spouse, stroking your ego for its brilliance.
- Then you realize your spouse was asking your 9-year old.
The first step to any change is recognition.
We often try to reduce what is oversized. Sometimes we would do better to inflate a countervailing force instead.
Ego too big? Don’t try to shrink it. Magnify your humility or appreciation instead.
Appetite too big? Increase your exercise or carrot intake.
Ambitions too big? Spend more time volunteering.
Sometimes a totally different approach is much stronger than fighting against that strongest force that already holds sway within you.
Lessons from my author’s retreat (cont.).
I sat in a group of authors. One of them made a comment to the group leader, to which the group leader responded. The author who made the comment interrupted to say, “I understand all of that.”
This is a common occurrence. What I really think he was trying to say to the group was, “Please think I’m smart enough to know that.”
What it looked like he was saying was, “I’m afraid people think I’m not smart enough for this group.”
We all do similar things. We try to show off our credentials to protect our egos. We do this by
- Answering questions
- Avoiding asking questions
- Talking about our accomplishments or knowledge
- Saying, “I know”
We do this in the hopes we will be seen as smart. We will belong. We will be accepted.
In this case, the author was brilliant. Maybe he really did know. But he cut off the discussion leader from discussing what others didn’t know. And he sounded blustery in the process.
We are all subject to the whims of our egos. Beware. Trust that people respect you. And don’t be afraid to not understand.
In April I offered the Four Fatal Communication Blunders in which people think (and would certainly say) they are trying to do one thing, when in fact they are doing something totally contradictory.
Here’s one more.
Apologizing – Reconciling vs. Protecting
What’s the real point of your apology? Is it to reconcile and heal a relationship? Or is it to protect your own ego?
Many apologies start off well. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I shouldn’t have.”
But somewhere in there we shift into explanations for why the apologized for actions weren’t our fault and make perfect sense when seen from our view. That’s the blunder. That’s our ego kicking into protection mode, shielding us from the threat of believing that we did something truly wrong.
This ego protection destroys the apology. It takes us out of reconciliation and right back into disagreement. For an apology that heals we need to focus on healing.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have. How can I make it better?”