When people tell us, “No,” we cannot become so fueled by emotion that we lose our ability to think beyond them. “No,” doesn’t mean that you cannot do something. It simply means that the person saying it is not the person to assist you in your efforts.
I was recently reminded of this lesson during my most recent travels. Upon arriving to my gate, I realized that an earlier flight was in the process of boarding and asked the agent if they had any open seats available to accommodate my catching an earlier flight. The agent politely smiled, and told me, “No.” In looking at the monitors in the waiting area, however (amen for modern day technology), I could see that there were 14 unclaimed seats vacant on the flight.
Politely I asked, motioning toward the monitor, if she meant that each of those seats had been claimed. “No ma’am. They have not,” she said with that same smile. Puzzled, yet still polite, I asked if she could place me on the Standby List in hopes that I could get home early to my family. She replied that she would be more than happy to do so – for an amount that I was unwilling to pay.
Because I had recently been placed on a Standby List for an earlier flight with the airline just a few days ago, I knew that what she was asking of me wasn’t an absolute requirement, but for she and I, in this moment, for whatever reason, it was. And in that moment, I had a choice. Do I Get upset, frustrated, or angry?
No. What purpose would it have served? Do I accept her, “No,” and simply wait for the flight I was already confirmed for? I could have. After all, I was asking for something that I wasn’t entitled to. It was simply something that I wanted, and I recognized that it could be done, even if she wasn’t the person willing to do it.
So instead of getting angry and putting on a “Crazy Woman,” performance worthy of a segment on one of those reality shows where the flight attendants showcase all of the foolish antics that they’re forced to endure each day, I simply found a nearby table and thought about two things, and two things only. What did I want to happen? And, what would it take to make it happen? And in that moment, the light came on. I called the airline customer service number, and simply made the request to someone else. Of course I was prepared for the fact that they too might say, “No,” or make some similar request for a payment that I was unwilling to pay. But, there was also the possibility that they wouldn’t. And you know what? They didn’t.
They simply listened to my request, and accommodated it because they could. Unfortunately, their facilitating this change required me to return to the gate agent who had originally told me, “No.” And before providing me with my new boarding pass, she asked me for my credit card.
When I told her that my seat was already confirmed and I was simply presenting at the counter to retrieve my updated ticket, the look on her face as she followed the prompts on her computer screen told me that she now had the same choice that I had been previously presented with.
Would she choose to think, or would she choose to feel? Either way, I was able to recognize that this was not a circumstance that I needed to involve myself in. I simply took my ticket, thanked her kindly, and boarded my flight while she simmered in her choice.
As you read this, I hope that you will reflect on the last time that someone told you, “No,” and you allowed it to stop you in your tracks. And the next time you hear the word, “No,” I hope that you will remember this story, and remind yourself that just because they are telling you, “No,” it doesn’t mean that it cannot be done. It simply means that they are not the person that will help you get the job done.
Peace and blessings on your journey. Until next time…