Think about the last time that you were asked to make a commitment that you really weren’t interested in.
Did you say no right away?
Did you say yes, and then later say no?
Did you say yes, and then show up and later regret it?
Does someone keep asking and asking and asking to meet with you because you keep saying maybe?
Were you worried about how the other person would feel if you said no?
Recently, I spent some time pondering my historic inability to say no. Let me break down some examples and share what I learned.
An acquaintance going through a career transition reached out to me to see if he could pick my brain. I quickly said yes, but unfortunately, I showed up unfocused and not present. I should’ve said right away, “Currently, I’m focusing my free time on a major project. Would you like me to send you a few resources that I really think could help? Or, I try to block off 8:00am every day for a phone call … Would that time work for you in a couple months?”
Someone asked me to meet for coffee to tell me more about a network marketing business that they had started. I quickly said yes, but then I canceled late after I looked at my over-scheduled week. I should’ve said right away, “Unfortunately, I’ve tried that business model in the past and I didn’t enjoy it. Let me think about some people who might be interested.”
A sales rep asked me if I’d be interested in grabbing a quick lunch to network. I quickly said yes, and then I proceeded to put off the appointment. I should’ve said right away, “I’m not the person who makes that buying decision. Would you like me to point you in the right direction?”
A friend asked me to go to a sporting event during the work week. I quickly said yes, but then I canceled late the day before, so that I could spend time with my family. I should’ve said right away, “During the week, I try to block off nights to be with my family. Let me check my calendar to see if a different game might work.”
You see, I’m a people pleaser. While I thoroughly enjoy connecting with people and I want to spend time with everyone, this behavior really shoots me in the foot. Unfortunately, I’m horrible at saying no and really good at half-way commitments … saying yes, and then no. I’m a wimp at standing firm.
Saying “NO” is professional … you know best what to do with your time, and saying “no” to others is acceptable.
Saying “YES, and then no” is unprofessional … we need to be responsible and to honor our time commitments, and canceling at the last minute is unacceptable.
If you just said “no” to someone and feel awful, keep these things in mind…
Stand firm. Don’t be a wimp. It’s ok to say, “no.” It’s ok to say, “let me think about it.” It’s ok to ask for more information. It’s ok to offer different options.
ACTION: Before you commit to the needs of others, ask yourself a simple question, “Will this time commitment take away from my most important priorities and goals right now?” If the answer is yes, take the time to think about your answer before giving away one of your most valuable commodities … your time.