By Brian Mitchell, Managing Partner & CEO
Why is it oftentimes, in both personal and professional scenarios, many people won’t just say “no” when they don’t agree, can’t comply, don’t have time, or are simply no longer interested?
Which is more rude – swiftly being clear on a decision that you disagree and/or won’t do something OR keeping false hopes and ambiguity alive to avoid the slightest tension in communication? Ironically, the latter behavior ultimately generates more tension whereas the firm clarity on what you do or don’t think/will do is typically quite reasonably received and respected.
In Executive Search, we introduce human beings to other human beings who interact in discussion(s). Like all courtship oriented relationships, there’s typically a spark of interest and connection early on or there isn’t. It’s often felt obvious to both parties, although not always and clear communication is necessary. Depending on the individuals involved, there could be some psychological maneuvering to best position oneself whether you want to attract the candidate or you want to attract the hiring executive. It’s often not advantageous to put all your cards on the table until the time is right, demonstrating interest without being overeager. A little bit of intrigue and mystery can be powerful and increase interest although being overly vague can turn the other party off altogether. It can be a delicate balance guided more by instinct and experience vs. anything taught in a training environment or read in a book.
All said, there comes a time when a commitment is necessary and in professional circles, it’s ALWAYS best to be diplomatically salient in communication. “I appreciate your time and this is a great company, but it’s not the right time for me to make a move and I don’t want to make poor use of your time,” is a fine answer. “I appreciate your time invested thus far, however we’ve identified a couple of other candidates we believe will be a better fit and we don’t have any additional steps for you at this time. We’ll let you know if anything changes and wish you well,” is respectfully transparent. What lacks professionalism is silence. The recruiter that is representing you in a process and gains feedback from the client that you’re out, but doesn’t make the effort to inform you – drop that recruiter. The hiring manager who had you in through a series of interviews multiple times and then POOF, ghosts you? Consider yourself lucky that you just avoided a bad culture. The candidate you’ve extended an offer, made concessions, and responded to in a timely manner for three months all of a sudden vanishes without a word??? That is quite lame. What these so-called “professionals” don’t realize is that they’re building their own reputation brick by brick with all of these interactions and it’s incredible how often things come full circle. How we treat people is a reflection of ourselves and it’s common courtesy, let alone professional courtesy, to simply communicate “no” if that is the conclusion. It’s ok! What is not ok is avoiding reasonable dialog with someone who deserves that respect just so you can avoid feeling awkward yourself. I know I’m sounding a little preachy in this rant, but sometimes we all need a reminder to have the dignity and professionalism for others which we’d expect of ourselves. Be well.