The “No” Thermometer

“No”. This tiny word packs quite the punch! Two letters has the ability to level a person, or ruin a day at the very least. In an article in Psychology Today titled, “The Most Dangerous Word In The World”, it talks about how if you saw the MRI scan of a person’s brain who was shown the word “no” for less than a second, you would see the release of stress hormones infiltrate the brain. Those chemicals impair logic, reason, and other brain functions. It’s not a word we like to hear.

We may be told “no” by our parents as kids, or through the rejection of another person, but I am specifically interested in its business context because it’s a word you will hear a lot.

Recently, I had an exciting opportunity present itself that looked like it was mine for the taking. Even though I told myself I wasn’t going to get my hopes up, I quietly did. My brain knew that it would be wise to reserve excitement but, my heart wanted it! So, when I got the news that infact, I did not get it…it sucked.

If the word “no” literally messes with our brain, impairing logic and reason however, then it seems to reason that we need to use caution when deciding how to respond to it. We can’t just take it at face value and trust our initial response.

Sometimes, if we pay attention, there is something lingering below the surface of our disappointment.

Put another way, our disappointment itself is often telling us something. As I worked through my recent let down, it showed me how bad I wanted it. It’s what I call the “ ‘No’ Thermometer”.

While a “no” has the power to hurt, it also has the ability to reveal.

We can use “no” to take our temperature; to give us a reading of how bad we want it. When we hear “no”, it can show us the difference between something that was temporalily disappointing and something that needs to be pursued. When you can’t shake it, when the let-down goes too deep, the “ ‘No’ Thermometer” may be telling you to use the disappointment as motivation and move it into action. Rather than seeing “no” as the end of a road, what if we saw it as fuel to go further? After all, if you can’t push through a “no” then you didn’t want it bad enough.

So, next time you hear that two letter word, you have been given a gift. You have been given the chance to find out how bad you want it.