Many times there are three possible answers to a given question: yes, no and maybe. Under most circumstances, a negative responsive is the least desirable outcome. Yet, while the third option definitely has advantages over a straight refusal, it too has its downside.
When you receive a “maybe” there is a demonstration of interest from the other party, their lack of affirmation does not constitute a refusal. They are not ready to commit at this juncture and there are a host of reasons why people fail to commit. It is possible that they are embarrassed to say no, or they have not fully considered the implications of saying yes. Therefore after careful consideration they leave the front door open for a later possible agreement. But, at the same time they are leaving the possibility of exit through the back door. There is always that niggling chance they may scupper the deal.
Occasionally being in limbo is more burdensome than a definite answer. The fact that options remain open can actually impede future growth and potential success. When one has received a depressing response, despite the negativity in its wake, the concreteness allows both parties to move forward to new and hopefully better options; however the “maybe” response arrests any further development. This is the simple logic backing the phrase “A fast no is better than a slow maybe”.
It is sometimes the responsibility of the effective intermediary to push for a no. Strange as this might seem, a successful pro-active deal maker will from time to time, push for conclusion which is not to your liking. Eliezer, servant of Avrohom is a shining example of a productive negotiator.
Eliezer engages his matchmaking skills in trying to secure Rivkah as a match for Yitzchok. To orchestrate the arrangement and convince her family, he presents to her father Besual and brother Lavan the omen he personally prepared for selecting Yitzchak’s mate; an omen which would highlight the right suitor. To be eligible to enter the house of Avrohom, the prospective woman would have to be of a certain caliber, the designated test served to prove that she was appropriately qualified. Eliezer continues to detail how Rivkah satisfied the prerequisite requirements.
In reaching his closing statement Eliezer begs for honesty and compassion “And now, if you will do loving kindness and truth with my master” he says, “tell me and if not, tell me”. This is no redundancy. He is desperate to avoid leaving things hanging, ‘tell me’ if you accept and ‘tell me’ if you reject, Eliezer is fine with a yes or a no, but don’t leave me in limbo.
All of us set off on projects both physical and spiritual, which start to hang. No further progress occurs and more frequently, no further efforts are invested. The time comes to shut down the operation and begin something new. This strategy of certainty will promote growth.