Saying a Positive "No"

I concluded an email the other day with the following:  Wishing everyone safe driving in the snow.  Being able to back up on the ice is a handy skill to have in getting down narrow streets!  A colleague asked if this was a metaphor for backing out of a commitment or a potential commitment.  I didn’t mean it at the time but the email did have me saying that I would not be able to participate in what was being asked of me:  to help plan an event. 

 To stay productive and focused on priorities, it is ever so important to be able to say no.  Bowing out of your commitments that don’t make the most of your talents or interest is often a key to focusing your time.  Other helpful suggestions:

  • Define the list of your priorities; when you are in tune with your priorities it makes it easier to say no; it also help in being able to say yes.
  • If someone asks you “on-the-spot”  to work on something or be on a committee, etc. , tell them you need to check your other commitments and will get back to them -- don’t feel pressured in the moment to say Yes.  Think about it.
  • Think about the implications and what is being asked of you. Get as much information about the commitment as possible; ask the right questions
  • Say thank you before saying no; remember being asked is a compliment.
  • Don’t make a lot of excuses when saying no and never use the excuse of being too busy.  Everyone is busy!  You might say that this is not a good time for you but please consider me in the future.
  • Offer an alternative solution:  suggest someone who may be available or offer to take a smaller role, remaining less involved.

 Whatever you are being asked to do, make sure you think first and think again before saying yes.  Ask yourself, “If I click yes in responding to this email will I regret sending an affirmative response. Will I wonder what I was thinking?”  If that answer is yes, then say no! 

 Remember, the roads (especially in the east) are treacherous – so go forth very carefully and guard one of your most valuable assets – Your Time!

Posted on February 7, 2011 and filed under The Real World.