06 Oct Empower Yourself with the Power of No
A colleague recently told me restructuring at his company was making his workday challenging — and not in a good way. His productivity had dropped significantly and his manager wanted to know why. During our chat, he confided he was now working with a project manager who frequently interrupted him, asking for his time to attend numerous meetings, followed by requests for reports or data. It left little time to do his own work.
My colleague is not alone. It’s a common problem for many professionals, and sales teams in particular can be impacted in a negative way. What’s the answer? I say, say “No!”
The Power of No
In The Power Of Saying ‘No’ In Business, Gay Gaddis compares saying “No” to managing fast growing cedars in ranch country. These weed species can crowd out native trees, impact the water table and take over productive hay fields. To survive, ranchers need to be ruthless.
“What I learned from our relationship with the cedar trees is the power of no, and I use this wisdom in my business every day,” writes Gaddis. “When I sense that a new spurt of growth will ultimately take more than it contributes to the business, I say no, and I say it as early as I possibly can, because it only gets harder if you wait.”
It’s good advice, but how do you say “No” without harming important relationships.
It’s good advice, but how do you say “No” without harming important relationships. After all, we all want to be team players and contributors. We feel good when we say “Yes.”
However, saying “Yes” can be detrimental to the success of your business because it can lead to more and more interruptions, which, as we saw in How Collaboration How Can Ruin Your Career can be costly to business: $588-billion a year in the Unites States, according to Jonathan Spira and Joshua Feintuch in The Cost of Not Paying Attention: How Interruptions Impact Knowledge Worker Productivity.
Three Steps to Saying No
Here are three steps to take to empower yourself to say “No” to reduce interruptions while still ensuring you maintain positive work relationships:
- Delegate administrative tasks
Delegating administrative tasks can help streamline the business process in fast-moving environments and free up teams to run the business. You may want to consider outsourcing options if you don’t have the resources available inside your organization. Outsourcing can certainly benefit any department, but some of the most dramatic results (and ROI) come from applying outsourced support to sales teams. Check out our posts on Sales Acceleration for examples on how this concept works and apply it to your department.
- Determine a process
Entrepreneur.com contributor, Paula Rizzo, stresses the importance of deciding to say “No” early, being honest and adhering to strict criteria. These criteria may change from company-to-company but ask yourself these questions when deciding whether to say “No” or “Yes” to a request:
- What will I, or my company, gain from me doing this task or attending this meeting?
- Is there an alternative solution?
- Can I delegate this?
- Train others to respect your time
Just because the person you report to likes you does NOT mean they won’t interrupt you ad infinitum for the smallest things. If you respond “no problem” to a request on Friday afternoon for something to be done by Monday morning, then you are sending the message that your free time is not valuable. We see this again and again. There’s an unrealistic request made to someone and after they deliver it, the person who requested it doesn’t review it for a week.
Using the power of “no” can be a positive and powerful tool in your arsenal, but like any other tool it needs to be applied with the right force and frequency. In Improve Productivity with the Power of No, I give you some advice on specific times to say “No.”