I Tell Myself, “You Can’t Please Everyone”…

Posted on March 19, 2014

Since before I started my business in 2009 I’ve been a big believer in reaching out to people to ask for help, guidance, or advice.

Up until recently, I never had a mentor or anyone who really “paved the way” for me as a young entrepreneur. I always appreciated when complete strangers who I reached out to via email would respond kindly and agree to have a quick conversation with me. In that spirit, I always try to pay it forward. Anytime a young entrepreneur, professor, or student reaches out and requests a conversation of any sort, I try to make myself available.

In fact, I recall a few times where my feelings were really hurt and I felt stupid or rejected because another entrepreneur wouldn’t make the time to sit down and chat with me. I remember asking myself, “Am I not good enough to sit down with?” “What’s so wrong with me that this person won’t even speak with me for 15 minutes?”

As I write this short blog today, I feel guilty for thinking bad things about people who told me (very bluntly) that they didn’t have time for me. Because today, I find myself continuing to speak with others as much as I can but also having to turn some people down. And when I turn people down, I remember how I felt when other people turned me down, and so I try to be as polite as I can and at least be aware of any potential hurt feelings that my note could cause. Remember, you never know where someone is in their career and how they might take an email or note.

When I let people down via email, it’s typically because I literally have no time to speak with them. In fact, speaking with them might do more harm to my schedule and organization than good. I only say no to people when I find it completely necessary. When I do say “no” to people, I try to let them down gently by doing the following:

  1.  Don’t put off writing them back. People deserve a quick response. Get back to them ASAP.
  2.  Be cordial – even friendly. Let them know how much you appreciate their note.
  3.  Suggest a second opportunity. I had someone write to me today and ask if I could meet with them. I know the next 6 weeks are crazy for me and if I make time for this I might be hurting the business more than helping. When I told the person I couldn’t speak or meet with them at this time I suggested they reach out in 6-8 weeks when I was back from my speaking tour and things were calmed down. I even said that I would look forward to being in touch in the future.
  4.  Put yourself in their shoes. Make sure your email doesn’t come across as “too short” or “snippy”. Assume that one day you will be working for or with this person :)

9 comments
LauraMonroe1
LauraMonroe1

I have trouble with this all of the time. Great advice! 

IsabelaJacobsen
IsabelaJacobsen

Such a smart way of being personable with your audience and fans. You never know who you might work with someday! Companies are always trying to find new ways to stand out, and this advice could be extremely beneficial to a company's reputation. Great advice! 

mallorygold
mallorygold

Great advice! I've been turned down by quite a few high level people in the industry I work in and most of the time they are NOT nice about it.. its refreshing to know that not everyone things like this. 

Rene Cosides
Rene Cosides

This is great advice and definitely makes me feel better being on the other end

sarahgdougherty
sarahgdougherty

I loved this-- especially because sometimes I'll inquire someone about an informational interview and receive a "sorry, I'm unavailable" in response... a month later. It's nice to know the inside perspective of a physical lack of time rather than interest. 

sydk3m
sydk3m

Great advice, especially for those of us still in school or recently graduated who are trying to balance school, jobs, and everything else. I know I need to keep reminding myself that I can't do it all.