No is a full sentence, but its so hard to say!
I have a hard time saying no. How about you? As an introvert and non-confrontational person disappointing people is not in my list of to-do’s.
One of the books I have been reading this year is titled Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt. It is the best, most practical leadership book I have read in a while. One of the chapters focused on how to say no and was extremely helpful. I share some principles here in the expectation that you can glean some practical advice that is helpful this week.
Four Ways of Saying No (The Power of a Positive No, Harvard professor William Ury)
1. Accommodation. This is when you want to say no, but say yes instead. I have noticed that when I agree to do something and my heart is not in it, the task takes longer. Always. Multiple accommodation drains.
2. Attack. As a pastor (and I suspect other occupations as well) I sometimes feel that people believe I’m just sitting at home waiting for others people to come up with tasks for me to do. When you are constantly accommodating it destroys margins and elevates grumpiness & stress. Instead of saying a simple no we lash out with phrases like “don’t you know how busy I am?” or “I can’t believe you had the nerve to ask me that!”
3. Avoidance. The millennials call it “ghosting”. It’s when we don’t respond and avoid talking to the person that is making the request believing they will eventually ask someone else. This seldom works. One of the reasons we do this is because of our deep-seated fear of disappointing. Problem is that when you ghost someone not only are they going to be disappointed you will also make them upset. Avoidance usually compounds problems.
4. Affirmation. This is the best way. Use the sandwich method.
I will give an example. People ask me to review their book manuscripts pretty often. This is how I reply:
YES: Thanks for writing, I am so glad you have written this book!
NO: I am unable to review your book. (IMPORTANT: don’t use the phrase “at this time” knowing full well you don’t intend to do it. Just say no. Most people will respect that.)
YES: I have written a blog post of publishing books that I share here with you, and I hope your book is a blessing to people.
I hope we realize we are already experts at saying no because every yes is a no to something else. We just have to get better at owning your No’s so that you can live your life proactively, purposefully and successfully.