In my recent blog, “9 Lessons I Have Learned Growing a Small Business,” I spoke about the importance of learning how to say NO to things, highlighting the phrase, “If it’s not a HELL YEAH then its gotta be a NO.” This is a common struggle for most people in business, and in life. Saying yes to others even when you’d rather not can certainly have a dynamic impact on your career, your reputation and your professional growth. But saying no—especially when it’s uncomfortable to do so—is one of the most powerful steps you can take in your personal and professional growth.
By making “no” a rare part of your vocabulary, you are simply allowing other people’s needs to come ahead of your own. In most cases this is a commendable trait; you are a nice human being, after all, and more people should be just like you. However, your performance will suffer (if it’s not suffering already). In many cases, not saying no can become the greatest enemy of our productivity. Learning how to decline certain opportunities is one of the most efficient skills you can develop in business and in life.
Let us ponder why it is so difficult for us to say no? Where should I begin? How about the fear of hurting someone’s feelings, fear of confrontation, fear of turning down an opportunity that might send a message that you’re not interested? It makes us feel uncomfortable, and of course guilty. Most of these fears come from our intense desire to be liked: liked by our friends, co-workers, clients, teachers, etc. But pleasing everyone takes up a lot of time and energy, and usually leaves us feeling drained and stressed. You cannot be responsible for someone else’s reactions. It is better to learn how to be uncomfortable for a few minutes rather than being resentful for a lifetime.
So today, let’s talk about why not to feel this way when you say no to working that extra shift, coordinating the office holiday party for the third year on a row, taking on that extra client or patient, or helping your friend who’s moving next weekend. By saying NO you are allowing yourself the opportunity to say YES to the things that really matter…The things that are more aligned with your priorities…The things that will take you down the path to your ultimate success and happiness. Do not think of it as saying NO to someone else but rather saying YES to yourself.
Here are a few tips to help you become a superstar at prioritizing your own needs without offending someone else:
- Offer to help at a later date. Stating that your plate currently is too full to help out will force those that are really interested in your help or business to follow up with you, and weed out those who are really not that serious.
- Make an introduction to someone else who may be better suited for the task. This achieves two goals: You are still finding a solution to the needs of the person asking, but you are also possibly sending business to someone else who can benefit from it . . . thus proving that you still are a nice human being.
- Understand that by saying NO to this opportunity you are allowing yourself the space to say YES to the right opportunities that are more aligned with your priorities. Saying no to good things now will lead to the opportunity to say yes to great things later.
The next time you feel caught between putting someone’s else needs or happiness above your own ask yourself the following question: “Is my answer a definite HELL YEAH I want to do that?” And if the answer is NO than that’s your cue that this may be one of those opportunities you will have to pass on. Remember saying no to whatever they are asking of you now is just another way of saying yes to what you truly want to commit yourself to later. In the words of Warren Buffet:
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
Christa Gurka, MSPT, PMA®-CPT