Hi, I’m Matt Tillotson, and this is Matt’s Mix Tape. My life is a new mix these days. And so is this newsletter.
Can you get great at saying no?
This week we launched the Write of Passage Mentor Team for Cohort 9, which begins in October.
Fourteen people will help hundreds of students from around the world face their fears, refine their craft, and write online. But for those who applied to join the team and were not selected, I’m the guy to break the news.
Here’s how I tried to say no to applicants this week.
Communicate from the other person’s point of view. Sending robotic corporate-speak rejections is the work of cowards. To write with empathy, you have to feel the pain and disappointment the other person is going to feel. To do otherwise is hiding.
Be constructive about why the person wasn’t chosen. Sometimes, it’s not necessarily what they did “wrong” but what others did right. Whatever the reason or reasons, deliver them, with care.
If an applicant was lacking in a certain area, or needs additional experience, then share that—tactfully. And offer specific suggestions about what that person can do to grow in the direction they want to go.
One of the core commitments we make to Write of Passage students is to help them 2X their potential. Can saying no help people level up?
Hearing no often feels like an ending. But it can also be a launching pad.
So, think about what’s next for the person getting the bad news. For me, that means asking:
How can we support this person with their goals and next steps?
How do we keep them engaged in the Write of Passage community?
Doing this well requires blending all three tactics from above: empathy, honesty, and specificity.
Let’s be clear: I’m learning. I screwed up one of these situations this week.
Saying no well requires the principles from one of my favorite books: “The Courage to be Disliked.” Sometimes people don’t want advice, or specificity. They’ve been rejected, they’re hurt, and that’s that.
If I’ve done my part to be empathetic, honest, specific, and forward-facing, then I can live with the results. My responsibility ends where my control ends, as the book says.
“No” can be a beginning. But it has to be sent on the right trajectory.
I’m trying to hone in the coordinates to do it right.
This week’s photo
The aforementioned Mentor Team for Cohort 9, in our initial training session. This team can do great things—Mentors can change the trajectory of students’ lives. It’s my job to bring that out in all of us.
Thank you for reading!
Whatever you’re working on or working through: keep showing up.
If you liked this edition, would you mind giving the heart a click? Thank you.
It's cool to see the mentor group photo without ┃mentor written next to their Zoom names! Like seeing a baby photos of adults.
Hey Matt, no illustration this week? Great newsletter, I missed the drawing.