Being negative can become a positive

‘No” is a word I do not like to hear. As a child it only encouraged me to rebel.

When my parents said I could not have sweets, I would desire them even more.

My life as a businesswoman is no different. As much as I have received nods of approval along the way, I have also experienced rejection.

“No, that strategy needs tweaking,” or “No, we are not looking into that now. Let’s focus on this for the time being”.

Rejection is a part of life, just like approval. But personally I will never get used to hearing the word “no”. Even after being in the field for some time, some people will just not agree with what you have to offer.

However, I have come to realise that this could be behind my drive to excel. Whenever I have encountered rejection, it has simply made me more determined.

When I was first thinking of establishing my consultancy business, a couple of people tried to persuade me not to go ahead with my plan.

They said I was too young, that I needed more experience, that I needed to focus on my day job. Bottom line: they did not believe I had what it takes.

Their words hurt me for just a moment because I believed that I could do it, that my determination and passion for communications would be enough for me to succeed. In fact, I was furious. And it was that fury that I channelled towards building my business.

As well as the passion that resided within me, I had a point to prove; that I could do this, that I would succeed at it. When I met those people again a few months after I had established my business, they were shocked. They’d already heard about a few projects that I’d managed. To me, that was priceless.

In life and in business, you can be presented with numerous ideas. I have been approached to take part in different events or to manage certain projects. They were great ideas, but I rejected many of them. And that is when I learnt to love saying no.

I said no because I needed to focus on what was right for me. Even though some of the proposals meant I would receive exposure or a healthy pay cheque, it was not within my field. I knew I had the potential to be good at many things, but I could be great if I only concentrated on a few – something I resolved to stick to after speaking to my business mentor. Being selective allowed me to be more focused, gave me more time to target clients and even provided me some room to grow and expand my know- ledge.

Now several years on from when I first became involved in communications, no is still part of my business cycle. No matter how experienced, determined or even how long your track record is, there will still be people or companies out there that will not buy into your business ideas. Their taste could be entirely different, or perhaps the reason is personal.

Ultimately, it does not matter what the reason is. What matters is not dwelling on the rejection and not losing your business focus. Walt Disney was once fired by a newspaper editor because his sketches “lacked imagination”. Other entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates did not have a smooth start either, but they hung on and eventually found the formula for success. And that is what you can do to: use no and rejection as a motivator to hone your skills, products or perhaps rework your original business. But do not let it stop you.

It all boils down to this: no matter how much you have achieved or how great you believe you are, sometimes you cannot convince investors, clients or even friends that what you have to offer is what they need. What you do have control over, however, is the way you react to the situation. Use that to your advantage.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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