By nature, I am a people pleaser.
Need to borrow my vacuum cleaner? No problem! I’ll get it over right now!
Want me to come and water your plants every day while you’re on vacation even though you live 45 minutes away from me? With pleasure – should I also clean your apartment while I’m at it?
God forbid the shelves get dusty.
Saying “no” has always been hard for me. However, we all reach a point in our personal or professional lives where saying no becomes an imperative part of our day. This is especially true for small business owners or entrepreneurs.
There’s no guide book for ambitious people who can’t help but bend over backwards to get their cousin’s boyfriend’s cat sitter an interview with the CEO of the next-big-thing. So as a fellow people pleaser, I’m here to help you out. Here are my top tips to saying no – well.
I have given all sorts of reasons about why I couldn’t do things. Trust me, when you hide behind cheap excuses, everyone can see right through them.
If you keep your reasoning short, to the point and most of all truthful, you can’t go wrong. People will not always like your answer, but they will respect you for your honesty. Going too far into detail makes you look desperate to get out of something.
Keep it Simple
Every blog post/article/radio talk program will tell you this one simple rule: do not oversell your no. This advice cannot be underestimated. You do not need to go into the hairy details of why you can’t do something. Being as straightforward as possible works wonders. Simplicity rules.
Small Business, Big Responsibility
The no-conundrum affects business owners in a big way. We have little time, tight budgets and a lot to do. But expectations of partners, employees and customers are high. We need to give a little to get a little, right?
Well, not always. Time pressure should not be underestimated. If you cannot provide undivided attention to something, do not commit to it. I know that in many cases, this is far easier said than done.
Deliver Good Stuff, not Rushed Stuff
Credibility of small business owners and entrepreneurs depends on how well you deliver. By being a serial “yes man”, the credibility of your word, work and ability will be questioned.
Instead, try to find a solution to the problem at hand. For example, if you can think of someone that would be better suited for the task, enlist them for help. Or, ask if the task can be delayed until you have the time and mental capacity to deal with it.
Time Management = Expectation Management
Sometimes, the most important time to say no is during your free time. If you’re anything like me, free time is precious – and it only comes by but once a week. Whether that day is a weekend day or a week day, keep it free.
Overcommitting to things can make even the simplest tasks seem impossible. Since I have started my strict once-a-week “no” policy, I am more refreshed, more dedicated and, most importantly, more productive. I am able to provide quality work in a more time-efficient manner, which means I have more time for new work.
The Moral of the Story
Saying no takes practice. It is not always easy, and you will experience some resistance from the people asking things of you. But, I promise, it’s worth it.
Over time, people will know that even though you don’t always give them the answer they want. When you can say yes, it will be quality, well-thought-out work. And for that, they’ll really thank you.
Now, must get on to trying to uphold our own advice!