In some workplace situations, not taking “no” for an answer can be a sign of confidence and strength. It’s a trait that can help you get what you want by sticking with something long after others would abandon the cause. Other times, however, too much tenacity can make you seem like a jerk who can’t let something go.
How do you know if you’re being assertive, or if you’re being obnoxious? “Persistence is politely continuing to follow up, even in the face of nonresponsiveness, until you get a definitive answer,” says Dorie Clark, author of Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams and Thrive.
At some point, however, repeating an action that produces no results and conveys no value crosses the line. If someone has told you “no” and you continue to push—despite what some sales manuals may tell you—it will very quickly brand you as someone to be avoided, says Clark. “It’s certainly appropriate to ask if it’s okay to follow up at a later time, but arguing only serves to alienate them,” she says.While it seems like walking a fine line, persistence is essential because so many people are too quick to get discouraged, says Clark. Say they sent an email request and didn’t get a response. “They assume that a lack of response means ‘no,’ when it could mean many things: The person is busy, or focused on other priorities right now, or [is] just bad at email,” she says.