The Art Of Saying “No”

Ever heard the phrase: “if you want something done…ask a busy person”? This could be you. Not the one asking, but the one being asked. You may be a little over-extended because of the perception you put out there that you are a doer, one who gets things done!

This one is tricky and something I know I need to work on and become better at this year. It ties in to your desire for progress and our most valuable resource: time. But even more challenging is the ability to know when to say “no”. Filtering through requests and deciding when to turn things down is imperative. To actually say “no” to most requests will save you in the long run, a lot of time. It will help with your overall focus. This in turn can be time and effort used to work on the most important and exciting projects that will help you progress.

Requests for your time could be coming in all the time: through email, phone, Facebook or in person. “Can you help me with this?” “Do you have time for a meeting on Friday?”, or “We need your expertise and input on this new idea!”. Even though some of these requests may not be a good fit for you, or are not in line with your goals, you tend to pull out your usual go-to response, which is “yes”. You do this because you ultimately want to be perceived as positive and helpful, and you don’t want to upset or hurt anyone’s feelings. Sometimes, you just don’t want to jeopardize a potential business client or opportunity.

But what you may be doing is taking on too many commitments, which drain your energy and creative flow. And it will steal valuable time that you could have been using to progress on your big wins and your big goals. If you often say “yes”, you will never get anything done for your own goals, at least not well or on time. People will notice it if you are receptive to being out there for others. They will grab your time, and they will continue to do so… if you let them. Instead value your time and know your priorities. Make your time and effort helping others a smaller piece of the pie.

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

Warren Buffett

This is hard for me. I fail at this over and over again. The trick is to listen to your gut feeling and just follow that voice. You have to practice it as with any other skill. Watch what happens the first time you say “no”. Surprise! The sky didn’t fall. People still like you. You are still a valued colleague. Others do the work. Hopefully, the next “asker” will be more decisive or critical before pressing into your time and effort.

I think it was @tferriss who mentioned on a podcast that if it’s not a “hell yes!”, an enthusiastic “hell yes!!!!!”, then it’s a “no”. Not a “maybe” or “I will try to fit it into my schedule”, but a firm “no”. You will ultimately upset and perhaps tick off a few people, and you might pass up a few cool opportunities, but you will save yourself a lot of stress and frustration. And that will make a better YOU in the long run.

This skill is particularly important for busy and in-demand people. At one point you just have to choose between your own sanity and pleasing everyone else. Save yourself. At the end of the day, everyone will benefit from it. You will deliver better quality work, you will deliver projects on time, and you will be more happy and present when you meet the people that you really care about.

Politely decline and say “no”.

Can you relate to this topic? Let me know in the comments.

Now let’s move forward…

– Casper Stang