Jon Stewart Made a Difficult Decision: Could You Have Said No?

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Whenever someone offers me a new opportunity, my immediate response is, “Yes.” Who am I to deny such a complimentary proposal? It doesn’t matter whether it’s inconvenient or if I feel completing unqualified or if I don’t really want to do it. I am flattered that you would think of me and I want to accept. So when I see Jon Stewart declining an offer, I am in awe.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Jon Stewart was approached to host Meet The Press after David Gregory’s departure. Jon is a compelling choice for a realm of television landscape that is saturated with traditionally formatted news interviews. As Jon has shown on his juggernaut The Daily Show, humor can cut through the standard talking points to provide a surprising sense of logic and reality.

The pros of Jon taking the deal were clear. This would have been a lucrative deal (a source says that NBC was “ready to back the Brink’s truck up”) on a network channel bringing a new perspective to the Sunday morning talk show circuit. Ratings would have been through the roof and it would have attracted a younger demographic. However, as Jon explained to Rolling Stone,

I felt like that was one of those situations where someone says, ‘We really like what you do. Why don’t you come over here and do something different, maybe something you don’t do as well, for us?’

He’s probably right. Meet The Press was not going to become an hour-long, early morning version of The Daily Show. He would have never been granted the editorial authority he needed. But still, how do you say ”no” to such a tempting offer?

When I’m faced with these daunting decisions, my insecurities tend to kick in. What if they don’t ask again…for anything…ever? What if I just burned a bridge? What if this was my big break, or worse, my last chance? It is at these moments when I need to take a breath and put the offer into perspective. Here are a few suggestions to help guide you through these tough decisions.

Don’t instantly respond. Take some time to consider the request. This will give you the opportunity to weigh the advantages of doing it and the risks of not doing it. You’ll also be able to check availability, workload, and seek the advice of others.

Provide a firm response. When you say no, there’s no need to be overly apologetic or self-deprecating. This gives the impression that you’re unsure and can be convinced to change your mind. Also, a lengthy, overly-detailed explanation runs the risk that the other person will try to find a more convenient time.

Be nice. It’s a compliment to you that this offer has been extended so there’s no need to be defensive, dismissive, or rude.

Don’t look back. Once you make the decision to decline an offer, own it. You can’t look back in the regret of what might have been. You said no for a reason so move onto the next opportunity.

We cannot accept every offer that’s presented. Every “yes” takes time away from other priorities. If it doesn’t fit into your schedule, expertise, or grand plan, don’t do it. Strategically pick and choose what you want to accept and, once you do, commit yourself to doing it to the best of your abilities.

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