When you need to say no (video transcript)
One of the most popular blogs I ever wrote was about how we’re all spreading ourselves too thin. I got a lot of comments and a lot of agreement on that one. One of the comments I got was from Tiffany who said, “I totally agree. I just don’t know how to say no without alienating my teammates.”
These are the right words to say when you have to say no.
Let’s take a real example. Imagine you’ve been asked by your colleague to attend a trade show booth at an automotive conference. The first thing you have to do is figure out whether it’s worth doing at all.
You can ask great questions like, “tell me a little bit about this conference. Who’s going to be there? How many of our key clients will be attending?” It’s possible that these questions will actually cause your teammate to question whether it’s worth doing. Sometimes we’re doing things just because we always have. So slowing down, being more deliberate about what you do is really good value for your teammates.
It’s possible, when you have that conversation, the answer’s going to be, “you know what? We should pass”. Probably not very often though. So if you decide it’s something worth doing, then you have to figure out whether it’s something you should be doing. Maybe you can say, “The boss and I have agreed that my focus for this year is going to be on the agricultural sector and I don’t think this is really in my sweet spot for this year.” If that’s the case, don’t just leave them hanging. You have to figure out who can help them.
When we think about this conference, who might be really good to attend? Who is it on the team whose clients are going to be there or who knows this industry really well? When somebody comes to you with work, help them figure out whether it’s worth doing, help them decide and understand why maybe it’s not you that’s best to do it and don’t leave them hanging.
Find someone who is good. These are the right words to say when you have to say no.