Time Management Central
How to Say No
without using the word no.
Do you know how to say no? Do you say yes to too many things? I see this happen all the time and our readers tell us the same thing. Ultimately saying yes when you don't have the time, motivation, interest or perhaps skills to do the task is a sure way to create massive stress and destroy your time management at work.
Why do people say yes rather than no? I have found that most people do no know how to say no. My clients often say to me "I can't say no to my boss!" So I ask, "what is more important, being able to say no or not completing the task you said yes to? I suggest it is more dishonest to say yes, when you don't have the time to do the task, than to say yes just to please your boss.
Let's look at how to say NO. First, when should you say no? You say no when the task is not connected to your KPIs. (how to agree on and document KPIs). Second, you say no when you are at capacity - that is you can just manage the work you have and no more. (Try out the know your capacity Time management activities.
The only way you can get more Time is by saying No to some things you usually say yes too.
You can already feel you body tense up as you read that sentence. Because, let's face it, saying a No can feel blunt, unhelpful and you probably feel you may upset the person asking.
It is very rare to find people with the ability to politely and firmly say NO. There are many valid reasons for people not wanting to say NO. Unfortunately, saying yes all the time leads to poor time management and more work and more stress.
Saying NO is about being able to keep commitments, to other people and to yourself. Keeping commitments is a key aspect of trust. Saying no builds more trust that saying yes when you can't get it done (either in time or quality). Learning how to say no is vital if you want to be able to keep your commitments.
Another way to learn how to say no, according to Michael Bungay-Stainer, is to think about it as saying Yes more slowly. That's worth repeating: It's not about saying No. It's about saying Yes more slowly.
What my clients have found is that when they delay the yes, as much as 50% of the requests disappear.
Here are two ways to say Yes slowly.
Roger Smith, a client of mine (not his real name), tried the methods below and in one day he was able to reduce his workload for the week by at least 6 hours and 45 minutes. Now it is your turn.
What is one task you have on your list that you would like to say no to?
Plan how to say No to this situation. Literally write out the strategy and the phrase you will use.
Make a promise to yourself to delay saying yes -- what time delay will you use? 10 minutes. 2 hours. It's your choice.
"The art of leadership is saying no. It is very easy to say yes." - Tony Blair, British statesman
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