Say no, but do not say maybe | Stiernholm Consulting

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22 Feb

Say no, but do not say maybe


Datum: 2012-02-22 11:00

Do you have dif­fi­cul­ties say­ing no?

Are you keen to be of ser­vice when some­one asks for your help, but lat­er wish you hadn’t been so accom­mo­dat­ing when you real­ize how much you have to do already? 

Do you dream of being bet­ter at say­ing no when you should, and with a clear con­science at that? 

The bad con­science you get after say­ing no to some­one prob­a­bly orig­i­nates in your sub­con­scious think­ing that you do not want to be a per­son who says no, because you should always help others”. 

But if you are a per­son who feels bad when say­ing no to some­one, I believe you are also the kind of per­son who only says no for good reason. 

You just do not know what your rea­sons are yet. 

No for two reasons

Except say­ing no when you sim­ply do not want to, the no can be uttered due to two reasons:

  1. It may be the case that you are tired and need a rest, or that you have too much on your plate already and need to be care­ful in select­ing which new com­mit­ments to take on. You are com­plete­ly right to look after your­self. In order to pro­duce and per­form any­thing at all, you need to have a rea­son­ably sized work­load. Once you have ener­gy to spare, you will want to say yes; believe me.
  2. You might also say no since you need to pri­or­i­tize some­thing else. Say­ing no or yes is equiv­a­lent to pri­or­i­tiz­ing, mean­ing that by doing so you decide what should be done before some­thing else, all in good order. The only way of know­ing what to pri­or­i­tize (that is, what you should say yes to) is to first be ful­ly aware of where you and/​or the busi­ness you work in, is head­ing. All your dai­ly activ­i­ties are not ends in them­selves; you do them for a pur­pose. They are done in the inten­tion to sat­is­fy a need in you or in your busi­ness. All the things you do are in fact intend­ed to be small steps in the right direc­tion. Not until you are cer­tain of what that direc­tion is will you be able to set the right pri­or­i­ties. It might sound strange and more like man­age­ment-con­sul­tant-mum­bo-jum­bo, but this sim­ply means that you need do sort out what short-term goals and aims you should strive to, and take respon­si­bil­i­ty to, achieve. Are these per­haps sales-goals, cus­tomer-sat­is­fac­tion-goals, ser­vice-lev­el-goals, finan­cial goals, pro­duc­tion-qual­i­ty-goals, time-it-takes-to-respond-to-emails”-goals, or do you have oth­er aspi­ra­tions? Think about it and make it explic­it­ly clear to your­self and to whomev­er you need to say no to what your pri­ma­ry aim is, and hence what the rea­son you have to say no is. You will not have to give your­self a bad con­science and the per­son whose request you are declin­ing will under­stand how and why you have made this pri­or­i­ty, and it will all in all be eas­i­er to feel that you have made the right decision.


Do this

Try doing this in order to say no with a clear conscience.

  1. Find out what your short-term goals are.
  2. If you can­not think of any, ask your boss for guid­ance or try fig­ur­ing out for your­self what you could do to con­tribute to your company’s progress.
  3. Only you have the com­plete overview of your par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion, and hence only you can make the pri­or­i­ties which are right for you. This is why you can from now on regard any request oth­ers make as an offer to invest your time in doing some­thing for a few min­utes (or per­haps a year), which you can either accept or decline. Even if the per­son in ques­tion does not express his or her request in terms of an offer, you can choose to see it this way. If you have more than enough to do already and hence need to pri­or­i­tize one or the oth­er, and you are aware of what your short-term goals are, it will be eas­i­er to con­sid­er if the offer will con­tribute to you attain­ing your objec­tives or not.
  4. If it will help you fur­ther towards your goal than any of the tasks await­ing com­ple­tion, accept the request.
  5. If they don’t, you can express your thanks and make it clear that although the offer is tempt­ing, you are inclined to decline, since…

Well, since what?

If you can fin­ish the sen­tence No, I can’t, since …” it will be much eas­i­er to know why you are say­ing no. It is as sim­ple as this: once you know what you are say­ing yes to by say­ing no, your con­science will be cleared. Only then will you know why it would have been wrong to say yes. 

Your con­science will be even bet­ter off if you, as you decline someone’s request, pro­vide them with a tip or advice which could help the per­son in ques­tion to find assis­tance else­where, so that in the end you will both get what you want­ed and needed. 

You get a clear con­science by know­ing why

If you know why you are say­ing no, you will say no with­out feel­ing bad about it. You will feel in con­trol of your own plan­ning and work­day to a greater extent than you do at present. 

You are your own master. 

How do you do it?

How do you make it pos­si­ble to say no with a clear con­science? I have here described one way of look­ing at it, but sure­ly there are many more. Leave a com­ment to let myself and oth­er know. Share your wisdom!

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