I used to be deathly afraid of the word “no”.
So afraid, in fact, that hearing it almost made me cry. It was as if the person saying no to my question was saying no to me, and for a people-pleaser like myself, the thought of being rejected was like a dagger right to my heart. I ran away from hearing the word “no” like it was the plague, placing it in the same category as failure: something to be avoided at all cost.
The result: I stopped asking questions, especially when I knew the answer was probably no. I eliminated the possibility of being disappointed, but I also eliminated the possibility of being surprised and elated at hearing “yes”, which is the same problem as avoiding failure. If you’re never in a position to fail, then you never have the opportunity to win.
When I realized my fear of the word “no” was keeping me from hearing yes, I made the small choice to start asking questions, regardless of how I felt. I started asking successful people to spend time with them, I began asking for deals when I bought something, for extra thin mints at Olive Garden, and anything else I thought might be available. I even asked for grades and/or extensions in school (as an adult, no less), and I noticed that people often say yes when I was sure they would say no.
Now a days, If you ask my friends about me, they would probably tell you that I’m the guy who always gets stuff for free (or close to it). I’m the guy who gets to spend time with the “important” people. I’m the guy who gets the extension on his term paper, and it’s all because I’m willing to take the risk of hearing the word “no”.
The Bible puts it this way: “You do not have because you do not ask.”
It never hurts to ask, unless the pain of hearing “no” is greater than the joy of hearing “yes”.