To Australians of a certain generation, and I count myself amongst them, the classic question from The Angels involuntarily provokes a response … shall we say, in the negative?
(Not ringing a bell? Try searching for “am i ever gonna see your face again no way”)
And admit it – sometimes you’re tempted to use that line when a team member or a client asks you for just one more favour?!
Saying ‘No’ can be the hardest thing, especially if you’ve built your reputation on saying ‘Yes’. But you know that saying ‘Yes’ to too many unimportant things … means you’re actually saying ‘No’ to the important tasks and opportunities you want to prioritise.
So How do you Say No in business? In this week’s episode, let me give you multiple options, allowing you to say ‘No’ in a way that achieves all of your outcomes.
Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?
“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.” Back independent since 2019.
Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.
At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.
You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.
Good day Blackboarders.Way back in episode eight,I introduced you to some friends of ours,the three Russianbrothers and their cousin.This was a time andtask management processthat I encouraged you, asa business owner or leader,to go through to work outwhat you wanted to do more ofin your business,what you wanted to doless of in your business,what you wanted to toss into your task management,and what you needed to get rid of.And it’s that last of theRussian brothers, the Ridof,that I want to talk about today.Because it’s actuallythe hardest one for usas business owners, to commit to.There’s always more we want to be doing.Actually handing over tasks, saying no,is a very difficult thing for us to do.And this Blackboard Fridaysvideo is also really helpfulfor your entire team.It’s one of the ones that I encourage youto send around to your business.Because within your businessyou will have a lot of individualswho love you, who love thebusiness, who love your clients,who want to do everythingthey possibly can.But their efficiency,the value of their time,is being negatedby the fact that theydon’t know how to say no.They get asked to dosomething, and they acquiesce,instead of pushing back, which they knowis absolutely the right thing to do.So I’m gonna walk throughnine different waysthat you can say no.Check in with your feelingsas I talk about each of them,which ones feel most appropriate to you.And I’ve broken them downinto Passive, Passing,and Direct.Some people feel morecomfortable with direct,some people want somethingthat’s a little bit softer,whichever is most comfortable for you.By the end of this video you’ll have one,or maybe even three or more specific toolsthat will help you to say no more often,which of course meanssaying yes more oftento those tasks that doadd value to your world.Three passive approaches that I useand that I’ve got clients using.The simplest is an Out of Office.If somebody sends you a request by email,and they get an out of office,it immediately tells themthat you’re not available,and you’re probably notgoing to action what they’verequested, in the time framethat they’re looking for.Completely passive, youhaven’t had to do anythingafter you’ve turnedthat automatic reply on.Now this doesn’t mean you needto go on a holiday very oftenalthough I’d quite likethat as a solution.I’ve got a client who works in IT.He is often out at his clients,he is often helping his teamwith big intensive installation projects,he’s not checking hisemail on a regular basis.He has a permanent outof office turned on,that just reminds people thathe’s not available by email,that if it is an emergencyto call the office.Straight away it sets theexpectation that he’s notgoing to jump and do that task.Face-to-face,sometimes an awkward pauseis all that you need.Somebody comes in and says,Jacob, can you do this for me?And you just don’t respond immediately.Often, other people willjump into that pause,jump into that silence, andthey will find another solutionthat doesn’t involve youhaving to actually do it.You’ve got the outcome you want,without actually having to say anything.And the third passive is using humor.Sure, I’ll get right on thatwith the 25th hour in my day.Or, yeah, because I haveno other pressing urgent priorities,nobody else is asking me for anything.That’s a little bit sarcasticand there are ways to do itwith your own sense of humor.But it is a fun way of saying nothat gets the message across,without feeling asconfrontational, as direct,as you might fear,and that’s why chucked thatinto the passive column.Now passing on to thesecond column Passing.And this is where you try and say noa little bit more proactive,a little bit more reasonbehind the rejection.The first which is obviouslythe simplest of the three, iswell I can’t do thatbut have you tried Bob,Kate, Jane, Andy, Dave.Have you tried doing it yourself, no.That would fit into the direct.This is a way of you saying no,but by coming a little bitproactively with a solution,I can’t help you but go andhave a chat to somebody elsewho might, you manage to sayno to you doing the task,without that being as confrontational.Similarly, you can pass theblame for not being ableto do that, onto othertasks that you have to do.I’d love to do that butI’ve got a presentationthat I’ve gotta finish today,or I’ve got a report thatI’ve gotta out of next week,or I’m going on holidays, I’vegot these other priorities.Again, just by adding a but or a because,you give a justificationthat makes it clearyou’re not just saying no out of spiteor anything animosity.And the third of these is just,and the reason it sitsin the passing column,is passing the solutionto a future time point.Let me check my calendar,let me check my to do list.If you have trouble on the spot saying no,this is probably thebest solution for you.Because you don’t need to say no outright,you don’t need to come up with a reason,you just need to create thetime for you to think about it,and to formulate that response.Sometimes you might actually check and go,no I do wanna do that task.But if you still wanna say no,then you come back an hour or a day later,often with one of these others.I’ve checked my calendar, Idon’t have the time, try Bob.The third and final, isgetting a bit more direct.This is the most powerful to be honest,if you try an awkward pause,that’s not necessarily going to work,these will be more effective,if you’re comfortable using them.The first is a great question.What should I cancel?And this works best whenyou’re talking to a boss,a manager, or a client,who just keeps throwingmore requests at you.You’ve given me 10 things to do,great, you’ve asked for number 11,which of these other 10 should I cancel,should I not be able to do?By putting the onus back onto them,they more often realizethat task number 11,is not nearly asimportant as the other 10,and they will take that off your plate.This is where scope creepand working ridiculouslylong hours become a painand I don’t really feel sorry for peoplewho get sucked into that,because it is as simpleas having that conversationupfront, rather than saying yes.Set clear parameters.If you’re going to do something,if you’re going to shake something up,if you’re going to say no,or even if you’re going to say yes but,set some clear parameters.For example,I can fit that into my scope butnone of the others will bedone as fast, or as well, oryes I can do that andit’s going to cost youa little bit more money.By having that clarityof the parameters, again,you will often have theclient, the manager, sayactually don’t worry about that.And the last, Nancy Reagan,the late, great firstlady of the United States,who championed the drugprogram of the 1980sunder the slogan,just say no.You see where this is going?Somebody asks you to dosomething you don’t wanna do,just say no.This can be the hardest of all.The more you get in touch with yourself,the more you’re in tuneto the value of your time,and the value of where youneed to be investing your time,then the easier it is for you to say,I don’t want to do that,I’m not going to do that,I have more importantthings that I need to do,so no.Some people will find thatvery, very challenging.Some people will findthat very, very effective,and I’d encourage you,to be among the latter.
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