Once you’ve set some clear goals, it’s essential to have a strategy in place to stay on track to achieve them. Learning how to say no is a key skill for keeping on track. This is doubly important in times of change and uncertainty!
I’d like to take a moment to tell you about my friend Jessica. Jessica has the best intentions when she begins in the morning, but always ends up working late into the night. Most of her time is spent fixing other people’s problems or dealing with urgent, last-minute requests. She proofread her friend’s workshop flyer when he was stuck with the wording. She lost track of time scrolling through social media. She dialled in for yet another webinar that could have been an email. Jessica always says ‘yes’ when asked to help.
Her average work week is 60 hours and she is nowhere near her personal goals for developing her own business. Not to mention her home life is suffering as her kids need more of her time and she hasn’t done anything nice for herself in ages. And yet, when any of her clients ask her last minute to change their appointment, she knows she will drop everything to please them.
…Does any of that sound familiar?
During times of change particularly, you can find yourself pulled towards many urgent tasks, distractions and time consuming calls. If you want to keep on track, it is important to say “no” to the things that keep you from achieving your goal. These can be other people’s tasks, social media notifications, or even unnecessary meetings.
As an assertive and self-confident business owner, you will be able to say “no” in a positive way, without damaging your relationships or reputation. Yes, sometimes requests from others may be really important and need your attention. Most of the time, however, these requests divert your focus and take time away from working toward goals that really matter to YOU.
This quote from Steve Jobs highlights how essential this skill is:
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done.” Steve Jobs
Saying NO doesn’t limit your opportunities, it opens you up to the right ones.
Do not allow people to talk you into urgent tasks. You need to stick with a schedule and plan of action. Do not deviate unless it is a true emergency. For example, proofing a friend’s workshop flyer is not an emergency that you must complete at once. Complete your important tasks first.
Saying a “Positive No”
You already know you should say no to some requests, but exactly HOW can you possibly say this without harming relationships?
Try this simple, works-every-time strategy. It’s called saying a Positive No. And it’s really going to turn things around for you!
The ability to say No in a positive way is the secret behind maintaining your focus and keeping control of how you spend your time. This ability is an important aspect of success for every business person you admire. Use these rules of thumb to say “no” kindly but firmly:
Give a Reason
Provide an Alternative
Don’t Make Excuses
When someone asks for your time, try empathetically repeating the request so they feel heard and understood, and then re-state your position. Here’s some examples of a positive no in action:
1. “I am uncomfortable doing that because…”
2. Say "no" and briefly clarify your reasoning (without making excuses).
3. Say "no", then provide an alternative option or compromise.
4. Empathetically repeat the request in your own words, and then say “No”.
5. Say “Yes”, give your reasoning for not doing it right now, and provide an alternative time or solution.
6. Say "As a rule, I don't ____". This is an assertive refusal for firm clarity and can be a good strategy for keeping emotions in check.
Try one of these strategies today and see how it helps you maintain focus and direction towards the goals that matter to you!
You’re In The Driver’s Seat
Once Jessica implemented boundaries by saying a positive no, she was able to stay on track towards her goal of a more successful business. She established better professional relationships with her clients by keeping a firm schedule for bookings. She shut down her laptop on time and spent the evening with her kids, and on Saturday she made it to her yoga class to relax. Because she had this time to unwind and recharge, she had a tonne of positive energy to give back in all areas of her life and everyone benefited!
Remember - saying no doesn’t limit your opportunities, it opens you up to the right ones.
I hope this encourages you to get back in that driver’s seat, find your voice to set boundaries, and stay on track towards your success.
If this has been helpful for you, I’d love to support you further. Reach out to me for a free, no-obligation strategy session today to see how I can help you grow your dream business into a profitable, sustainable reality!
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