light-1508088_640Have you heard this line before?

It’s a fluffy and noncommittal line from someone who thinks they’re trying to let you down easy.

In reality it’s a starting point for you to possibly continue the conversation, take the conversation in a different direction, and to help you stand out in your career.

Disappointing? Yes! A showstopper? No

Dealing with disappointment is never fun.

But, it’s part of life.

“Don’t take it personally”

There is a great post from Burke Fewel, my former colleague at Microsoft Lessons learned from my post-Microsoft job search where he covers 7 points he learned is his recent job transition. Point 7 is mentioned above and it’s critical that you take this to heart.

Everyone has priorities. Everyone has needs. Everyone has good days and bad days.

When we are dealing with fellow human beings we need to keep in mind that they often want to help. They often will go out of their way to help you understand why they have decided to go “in a different direction” and all you need to do is ask.

Remember, whatever they say, whatever they offer … Don’t take it personally.

And, remember:

There’s an old saying: If you don’t ask you don’t get.

The corollary to that is: If you don’t ask you won’t know.

Can I ask you a few questions?

This is one of those things you can say when given that fluffy and unceremonious line. You can ask the person that tells you, whether it’s on the phone or whether it’s an email, “Can I ask you a few questions?

Most people are courteous enough to say “sure” and to let you ask at least one question. This is a very good thing. As this opens the door for you to ask about their decision making process. This is not a personal attack. Rather it is a chance to understand how the company (or person) made their decision.

This is not your chance to psychoanalyze the recruiter for the person you’ve been speaking to. But, it is your chance to gain a little understanding into how they came to their decision. Which will help you in the future at either at this company or in another company.

A few questions you may want to ask include:

  • What were one or two things I could improve on in the interview?
  • Was I missing any relevant skills or experience?
  • Do you have any additional suggestions for me?

The bottom line is companies want to hire the right people with the right fit at the right time. Sometimes you can have all the qualifications needed on paper, but for whatever reason something didn’t work out quite right. That should not be your so stopper.

As Burke said in point 5, “don’t stop

As you do this you will be learning and practicing a skill that will help you stand out in your career. Whether it’s for a job interview, a sales call or almost any other kind of request you are making of someone. The key point to keep in mind here is that you are dealing with another person. They often want to help … even when they have … “Gone in a different direction.”

Now you have a starting point

When you are given that unceremonious and fluffy line of “we have gone in a different direction” you might have a few ideas on how you might want to handle that and perhaps even move the conversation forward.

Whether it’s a job or a sales situation keep in mind that there are often a lot of ways to continue to conversation and find that point of value. By asking a few questions when they’ve “gone in a different direction” you can help clarify your thinking and perhaps find another avenue to continue to conversation. Even if that conversation may not be the same one you expected and in the same time frame you expected.

What do you do when you hear … We’ve gone in a different direction?

A few questions for you:

  • Have you ever been given this line before?
  • How did you respond?
  • What other fluffy and noncommittal lines have you heard?

Add a comment here and let’s get a dialogue going.