I cannot tell you how many of my coaching calls involve this epiphany: “I need to say ‘no’ more often.” It’s interesting to me how much we say “yes,” when our businesses would run smoother, not to mention our personal lives, if instead we said, “No.” So many of us have a knee-jerk reaction to say “yes” to whatever is asked of us.
But think about the prices we pay for saying “yes” when we don’t really mean “yes”:
- Because we wanted to say “no” in the first place, we often don’t follow through and others come to feel they cannot rely on us
- We are overburdened with work we didn’t want to take on and that is not ours
- We feel overwhelmed
- We don’t do a good job
- We feel resentful to the person who asked
So why do we do it? You have to figure out your own reasons, but here are some examples I have heard in many organizations:
- If I don’t do it, who will?
- I want to make sure the job gets done right
- I could tell she needed help
- I don’t want him to get mad at me
- I want to be a team player (even though this is someone else’s job)
- It’s just easier to do it myself
What is the solution? I can think of two basic answers to this dilemma. First, find out why you are doing it and work through how you could say “No” in the situation. For example, “I want to make sure the job gets done right.” If this is your reason, maybe you invest time in training and in debriefing with the employee after the job is done.
The second answer to the not-saying-no dilemma is what most of my clients take on – as Nike says, “just do it.” Set yourself a goal and say “no” – once a day, twice a day, every other day. Just experiment and see what happens. If agreeing to do whatever is asked is in your comfort zone, you have to step out to see what will happen.
Try it with me:
“No thank you.”
“I am sorry; I just don’t have the time for that right now.”
“No; I think Bob is more suited to that job.”
“No; I have a lot on my plate right now and I would not finish on time.”
“I’m sorry; that is not my job.”
“No; but I’m happy to show you how to do it.”
“No; I’m afraid we’ll need to hire someone to take this on.”
“No; I can’t do that. Who do you think is the best choice for the job?”
Let us know what happens!
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