Say No To No

During a time of unlimited possibilities it seems that education remains stagnant. It is rare, and potentially dangerous (not physically dangerous, but lose your job dangerous), to venture outside the tried and true (more tried than true, because let’s be honest, results in education are pretty mediocre).

Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) telling Curly Bill (Powers Booth) “No” over and over again before he kills him in Tombstone.

A Tommy Boy montage of Richard (David Spade) frustratingly watching Tommy (Chris Farley) repeatedly take “No” for an answer.

Finally, Lost’s John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) getting denied his Walkabout while vehemently screaming, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.”

Normally, there is a little more substance from the video clips. However, for this post’s sake, all I needed were cool scenes of people saying or hearing “No”.

Implications for Education

There are two lessons to learn: stop telling people no and when people tell you no, don’t listen to them.

Stop Telling People No

Nothing breaks my spirit faster than someone immediately shooting down an idea. It’s like “no” is in the holster and when I step around the corner, I’m already on the ground. They didn’t even listen.

Before it is shared, that idea is pondered, researched, processed, and maybe even second-guessed. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, so an immediate dismissal is devastating.

Ask yourself, why am I closed to this new idea? Is it because I am scared to try something outside my comfort zone? Is it because it is not my idea? Is it because we have always done it this other way? These reasons center on the naysayers feelings and emotions. Decisions about new ideas should not be confronted from the lens of what is safe for me, but rather what is best for kids.

If you have concerns regarding the effectiveness of an idea, that is okay. But, your initial response should not be to dismiss the idea. You might need to ask questions. You might need to make suggestions. You might need to provide constructive feedback. Your questions, suggestions, and feedback will help drive the idea forward, not stop it dead in its tracks.

Don’t Accept No

Presenting a new idea for the first time is intimidating. However, knowing that colleagues might immediately dismiss your idea (read section above) is helpful. Remember, most people do not shoot down ideas because of their lack of merit, rather it is their own insecurities about change and being forced to self-reflect that makes them uneasy. It is important to plan how to respond to a less than warm reception for your idea.

What you do when someone says no

  1. Ask why
  2. Ask for feedback
  3. Ask for questions
  4. Ask for input
  5. Ask “What if” (if your idea worked, what would the benefits be)

If your new idea is replacing an old idea, are you saying that the old idea is bad? Ineffective? Obsolete? If this is the case (or close to the case), others are forced to reflect on their current practices. No one likes to think that the work they have been doing is not impactful, or even worse detrimental to students’ academic progress.

Change is hard for everyone. Routines and habits are hard to break. By introducing a new concept, you may be asking someone to work harder, learn a new skill, or commit more time.

When you understand the reasoning behind a no, it prevents you from being so disarmed by it. However, if you are prepared for the no, and can counter with your own questions, you will be able to drive the conversation, and your idea, forward.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: