• Explaining the rationale behind a request or recommendation
  • Equipping others with the purpose of an assignment and the significance of information
  • Giving the details, sharing the context and removing the mystery behind our words and actions

The last time that I wrote about sharing the reason, it was the first thing I ever wrote about board games to see the light of day. Since then, I’ve written several board game reviews and moved into the wild world of video reviews, and things continue to snowball (in a good way) – speaking engagements, convention invites, Kickstarter consultation, playtesting, design judging, acceptance into the Tabletop Writers Guild – it’s really crazy to look back after two years and see where I started versus where I am now. 

But as much as I have liked being a part of the board game review community, one of my favorite parts has been the people. They accept my quirks, appreciates my skills, and values my contributions. I’ve been able to meet and develop working relationships with so many people in different roles (publishers, designers, artists, etc.) in the board game community, and that has been the best part doing this for the past few years. 

Now the intro may seem a little self-serving and I’m sure that my friends that read this are going to hit me with #HumbleBrag texts, but it was necessary to set-up this personal example about the importance of sharing the reason. 

A few months ago, a publisher that I had worked with for years and had developed a good rapport was looking for reviewers for an upcoming title. Since I had worked with them in the past on nearly every game that they had ever published and provided favorable reviews, I assumed that I would be a shoo-in to get an advance copy. So, I emailed my contact and informed them that I would be willing to do a review. But then a strange thing happened.


I didn’t receive a response, and this was highly unusual for them as they were normally very responsive and eager to work with me. No big deal, they’re probably busy with Gen Con. I’ll just wait. 


And being a small-world, I began to catch wind of others receiving confirmation that they were getting an advanced copy for review. So, I waited some more thinking that they would get to me soon. 


And then after a few more days I saw them post on a social media channel that all the advance copies were spoken for. 
I had gotten my answer and it was a “no”.

Now, no one likes to hear “no” to a request but hearing that response (or in this case receiving it indirectly) without context or sharing a reason can cause someone’s mind to run wild. 

My mind immediately went to the most extreme reasons why they didn’t pick me this time and they continued to snowball –

Did I do something wrong?

They didn’t really like me.

I’m not a very good reviewer.

I’m a fraud and only got into this position because I weaseled my way in. 

Should I even do this review thing anymore?

And I imagine that I am not the only one that has had a request declined to fall down the hill of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. 

But how easily could this all been avoided if a simple explanation would have accompanied the decline? Even if it was a critique on my approach or final product, it would have provided me with something to work on to improve and would have kept me from jumping to a worse-case scenario. 
One of the things about working in E-rate compliance is that you have to say “no” a lot. 

Is this eligible? No. Can we accept this gift? No. Can we skip the evaluation and just go with our current provider? No. 

And while different than my example, many of the “no’s” of E-rate are just as difficult to accept --especially if they came without any further detail or explanation. 

But that is why Funds For Learning strives to provide context, remove the mystery, and educate them on why the answer is “no”. By providing the reason behind our answer, we not only provide the answer with context, but we also educate them on reason why the answer is “no”. We equip them with the knowledge to not only know the answer for the future, but to also share the rationale with others. It makes hearing the “no” a little easier for anyone that may be involved and reduces the risk of them trying to fill in the blanks themselves with worst-case-scenario, or erroneous detail.  
 So, my story didn’t exactly have as sad of an ending as implied when I broke away to talk about E-rate. In short, the publisher emailed me two days after they claimed to have given out all the advance copies, apologized for missing my email, and sent me one of their reserve copies to review. 

While this had a happy ending for me, not all “no’s” that I must give or receive are going to have the same resolution. And this experience made me think about the importance of providing explanation when I have to say “no”. 

Providing additional detail takes time and intentionality, but it is worth it for you and the recipient’s sake. Take time this week and think of how you can do better at sharing the reason.   

Key Words and Phrases
Offer a rationale; Explain; Give details; Clarify; Describe; Put in plain words; Make clear; Enlighten.

Opposite Terms
Mystery; In the dark; Secrecy; Ambiguity.

GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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