Just say "No"
May 25, 2007
I teach my clients how to to say “no”. Many are simply overwhelmed by the task of managing and leading to garner the resources to tell others that they are simply not available. So many managers I know feel guilty about saying “no”. I think it’s one of the most liberating words in the English language and used effectively it’s one of the most empowering.
We’re so conditioned in business to saying “yes” – to being available 24/7 to meet the client’s needs that saying “no” evokes anxiety and fear. But what does constantly saying “yes” set up?
- Exhausted and worn out executives
- Excessive demands from clients
- A never-good-enough culture
- Lousy boundaries
Saying “no” on the other hand fosters
- Empowered and sane executives
- Good boundaries
- Realistic expectations and deliverables
So saying “no” in this instance is really saying “yes” to something that’s defined by healthy boundaries
Think for a moment about small children. At the age of 2 they discover the “no” word and apart from the frustration it causes, it’s a pivotal moment in a child’s life when they realise they are empowered to get what they want. It creates a negotiating position and forces parents to be more creative about their demands. “Pick your battles” is the advice from those who have been there before. And it’s wise advice. If you can’t use the word “no” then every demand and expectation assumes the same importance as every other. Using the “no” word judiciously invites others to choose what’s important and approach accordingly.
Good boundaries make good neighbours and I encourage my coaching clients to examine what they are setting up for themselves by constantly “being available”. Sometimes we have to take responsibility for the demands we place on ourselves before we look to those being awarded by others.