One of my favorite blog writers is Chris Lema. He has recently done a few blog entries on the topic of saying no. Little did Chris know that the word no is one of my favorite words. One of my other favorite phrases is not yet. This isn’t because I’m a negative person, it’s because I like to focus on what I think is important and not what someone else is trying to make me believe is important.
Start with the question why?
There it is again, the word why. This little three-letter word keeps popping up in almost every thought I have. When I say no, it usually means that whatever someone wants me to do doesn’t fit in with my why. It also likely isn’t something I consider important right now.
If you ask me to get involved in a project with you, I’ll ask you why I should do so. If I’ve delegated a project to you, I expect you to take the ball and run with it. If you need technical help or an answer to a question then I’m glad to be involved. If you need me to take the project back, that’s not likely to happen.
We spend too much time working on other people’s important and urgent projects.
I think understanding the difference between what’s important for you and what’s important for others is crucial. If something isn’t in the important column for you, why would you want to spend your time working on a project like this.
If you’re a manager or a coach your biggest job is to help those you work with to understand which projects are important and not urgent. I can promise you that those you’re working with already know about the urgent and important ones. Those are the projects that are screaming loudly at them every day.
The first step I like to take is to tame the supposed urgent and important project. Many times we need to help those we work with to learn to say no or not yet. Yes, they appear to be urgent, but often they really aren’t. It’s something that can wait while you work on something that will really make your company and or your life better.
No does not have a negative meaning.
I first wrote this headline as no should not have a negative meaning. Of course, that statement is true, but it has the word should in it. We can’t deal with should. You and I can only deal with yes or no issues. No is not a negative. It means that I’ve thought about your suggestion and it’s not right for me or it’s not the right time. When you hear someone else say no, that’s the question you need to ask. You want to know if no is really no, or there are more important things to tackle.
You might find that successful people do a great job of saying no. They’ve spent a lot of time to quickly and easily understanding where requests fit in with their world. Likely successful people have gone through a stage in their life where they became over-committed. These successful people said yes way too often. They realized that things weren’t getting done and being over-committed was keeping them from working activities they believed were important.
I want you to think about one thing…how often do you say no? If it’s not most of the time, you might be feeling over committed. You might not be achieving the success that you want. No is really about doing important things that aren’t urgent. That’s where true value is created.
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