Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Put a Little More 'NO' in Your Life

In a recent post I wrote about using a 'Commitment Diet' to take control of your time and your life. An integral part of that diet would be saying 'NO.'

It's not always easy to say 'NO.' Sometimes a request catches us off guard. Other times we just hate to turn down someone we like and respect. Still others find us confronted by people we just can't refuse, such as a boss or other co-worker.

Let's think about this for a moment and consider that there may be options in addition to the straightforward "Yes" or "No."

Business communications coach Patrick Donadio lists seven ways to say No at his web site. Here they are...with a bit of embellishment on my part:

1. Say NO...with a straightforward explanation - "No, I'm uncomfortable doing that."

2. Say NO...and give an alternative - "No, I can't do that today. How about first thing in the morning?"

3. Say NO...and clarify your reason so your position will be understood - "No. I can't help you because I made a commitment to my son to attend his basketball games."

4. Give a preface and then say NO - "Each year we choose three charities to support. I am sorry but your charitiy was not chosen this year."

Those are all quite simple and, with some practice, you should be able to come up with a valid "No" without hesitation. Hesitation is not a good thing.

Now for the tougher situations. How about the boss or co-worker who wants/needs help with a project? You really can't say, "No, I won't do that." At least not if you expect to keep your job. Perhaps the following will help:

5. Make an emphatic listening statement (let them down easy) and then say NO - "I can see this is important and I would like to help you but I am already committed to the Jones trial that is scheduled for next week."

6. Say YES BUT - YES, I can work on the Brief BUT I don't have the time to put together all the exhibits."

7. Say YES AND to give a nicer answer and to give alternatives - "YES, I will draft the Brief AND I will need you to prepare the exhibits."

In both No. 6 and 7, you have given an alternative so that you are not taking on the entire project.

Be sure to check out Patrick Donadio's website at www.patrickdonadio.com and his blog at http://patrickdonadio.blogspot.com/ for more information regarding Patrick's business development training/coaching for lawyers to assist them in building their practices.

I would like to hear other ideas for saying 'NO' and any experiences any of you may have had. Please comment!


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