Say No.

No Sign. VectorIn a recent Struming, Under-Promise. Over-Deliver I suggested that one of the most important things we all need to do is to gracefully say “no” far more often. This is hard for many people. Why is it not hard for people to ask you for your time or money, but it’s hard for you to say, “no thank you”?

It’s always good to be graceful, but it is not your responsibility to please everyone all the time. In fact, I submit that saying “no” is critical in life, because when you say “no” to the unimportant, you can better focus on the things that are important.

Here are some tips on saying no:

1. Don’t hedge or say something lame like “I’ll try” when you know you are not going to do it. Suck it up and just say I can’t, won’t, am too busy, I have other priorities, appreciate the idea, etc.

2. Be graceful, but if you are being pushed and guilted, then call the person out firmly and decline.

3. If it’s for a cause or activity you don’t like or support, just say so. Even if you are supporter but have other financial priorities, just say you can’t now.

4. If you are being taken advantage of, it’s because you have let yourself be taken advantage of. Do not be weak and then be a victim. You can only blame yourself if this becomes a pattern.

There may be times when you have to say yes to an activity you need to do. When your boss asks you to do a hurry up project you need to suck it up for the cause. That’s OK. Do it gladly. If fact consider it a compliment since you usually ask the most capable, dependable people to do the tough, fast turnaround projects (I know I did). Obviously if your job becomes a massive fire drill, that’s another story.

I believe focus one of the keys to success and therefore those that focus need to reduce extraneous (not important) activities in order to focus on the truly important relationships or tasks.
So learn how to say no and be glad when you do.

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