The Strong and Wise are Willing to Seek Out People to Say ‘No’ to Them
It’s not comfortable and agreeable to the ego to go out of one’s way to find someone to say ‘no’ to them. That answer seems to come often enough to us without trying. To want to hear it more might seem a little twisted.
Yet it’s really a sign of strength. It takes poise, humility and wisdom to do it.
“I look for people who will say ‘no’ to me. I look for people who have their own mind,” said John Kerry, a former Secretary of State who now will work as special presidential envoy for climate.
Seeking out people who will say ‘no’ takes curiosity, self assuredness and courage. Not everyone can bring themselves to this state of mind. It’s not easy, yet it is possible.
“I rely on my own confidence and my own judgment to have people around who will give me contrarian points of view,” Kerry said, “but I want to see all the pluses and all the minuses and then make the cut.”
Ray Dalio, a billionaire hedge fund manager and co-chief investment officer of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, also is a strong proponent for setting ego aside to ask “how do I know I’m right?” He has spoken in depth about understanding that he, like everyone, has blind spots and the critical importance of seeking out “what is true.”
Kerry, like Dalio, is a confident and bold decision maker yet they don’t rely only on the limited knowledge and perspective of what they know. They purposely go looking for additional brain power, facts, evidence, insights and credible, professional opinion.
This allows for a much higher probability of needed information, clarity, understanding to take wise action. This process becomes a safeguard.
“And what your quality of decision making is and how you approach it is part of what will make you a leader and separate you,” Kerry has said. “I mean I really do look for people who know a lot about one thing or another or about what we’re trying to get done. And I want people who are strong-minded, people who will not just say what I want to hear or they think I want to hear.”
This humility and intellectual honesty is invaluable to leaders or anyone who who values the likely benefits available and can see the best of what other people can bring to communication.
“I want people who are going to offer creative, exciting, thoughtful approaches to big challenges, and then when I’ve made the decision, be ready to go out and be a team player and help implement it,” Kerry said.
Learning to be able to listen to and hear “no” and the reasoning behind it with poise and patience and legitimately consider the level of its quality becomes a skill, competence and asset in accurate analysis and decision quality.
Michael Toebe is a reputation analyst, consultant, advisor and communications specialist, serving individuals and organizations. He has provided analysis and advisory for Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member, Physicians Practice, Corporate Compliance Insights, New York Law Journal and Training Industry and regularly publishes at Red Diamonds Essays and Reputation Specialist Essays (both on the Medium platform) and LinkedIn.