How often do you say no at work? Chances are you say yes a lot more than you say no. Unfortunately, this can be counterproductive.
Saying no feels like it should be simple; after all we are talking about just two letters. But for many people saying no is a hard thing to do, especially if you consider yourself a person who is always looking to please others and demonstrate that you can take any task at any time.
However your inability to say no can hold you and the business back.
The art of saying no is something I have improved upon as my perspective and years of experience have matured. Through my own bad habits during the years I spent at Microsoft to my current endeavor at Porch, I have seen how beneficial it is to say no.
Here are four reasons why you should say yes to saying no more often.
1. So you can focus on creating waves over ripples.
I have found that one of the true keys to durable success is the ability prioritize every hour of the day. What really needs to happen versus what you want to have happen? Often needs and wants are in conflict. But if you apply this filter, you can easily determine if the time you are spending on a particular effort truly maxes out your business objectives. Your time is valuable and the business is counting on you to make good decisions.
If you just say yes to every potential need or request that comes your way you are limiting your ability to focus; you begin to create ripples of productivity when you should be making waves.
2. So you can help others step up.
If you say yes to every request that comes your way you are taking opportunities away from someone else. Truly great managers and leaders know the importance of helping their employees grow. This means understanding and learning the art of delegation. Sometimes you need to say no so somebody else has the chance to say yes.
By stepping back and letting others step in, you begin to create an environment where you can start to coach and mentor (versus always being the one who is executing). There is no better feeling in the workplace than seeing others learn and succeed. In addition you are also helping the business create the next generation of contributors by deepening the bench. If you are really good at what you do, you owe it to yourself and the business to help others reach their potential.
3. So you don’t fall into the ‘visibility trap.’
Few instances suck the productivity out of the day like meetings. A common refrain echoed from offices across the globe is “I can’t get anything done, because I am in too many meetings.” To that statement I pose the question, “Why are you going to so many meetings?”
Related: Richard Branson on Learning to Delegate
Many times people have a hard time saying no because of the “visibility trap.” It is a worry or belief people have that if they are not in every meeting they are either a) not a vital contributor b) not visible to senior leaders or c) going to miss something critical.
Every meeting on your calendar should be looked at with a high degree of attention. You should only attend meetings that are critical towards delivering against your priorities. It is OK to say no to meetings if they are not truly bringing value to your day.
4. So you can take care of yourself and others.
Something that every person needs to work on during his or her career is an ability to strike a great work-life balance. Part of this comes from the realization that you simply cannot do everything you want to do and you need to say no. If you are not taking care of yourself first than you won’t be able to take care of other people around you.
For many hard-charging leaders this can be a hard nuance to rationalize. But sometimes you just need to say no, so you can put yourself first. Finding time to exercise, mediate, go for a walk, read and so forth requires you to say yes to yourself and no other things that prevent you from truly putting your health and perspective first.