Doug Dickerson explains why saying no can sometimes be the best option
Saying no. It’s one of those paradoxical terms in our leadership vocabulary. If you are like me, you don’t like telling people no. I use to pride myself in saying yes even when deep down I wanted or needed to say no.
Over the years, I have made much progress in learning how to say no. It’s as liberating as it is refreshing. There have been times when I’ve even surprised myself at how effortlessly it rolls off my tongue – No! But it wasn’t always the case.
What about you, do you struggle in this area of your leadership? Do you find it hard to say no without harboring feelings of guilt or worrying that you will disappoint someone?
As leaders, we bend toward the upbeat and positive and being there for people, etc., etc. I get it. But sometimes saying no is the best course of action. So, let me help you try and make sense of when it’s a good time to say no without the guilt that comes with it.
No is a good option when the timing is wrong
Timing has a lot to do with saying no. It may be that what you’ve been asked to do is a great idea, but the time frame is wrong. Along the way, in your leadership, you will have to learn how to say no to good ideas. It comes with the territory. A yes answer may be an option later, but if the timing is wrong, then it’s wrong. Sometimes saying no to something good today can pave the way to saying yes to something greater tomorrow.
No is a good option if the motivations are wrong
There will be times when people will try to get you to commit to something, and not only is the timing wrong, but their motives are wrong. When someone is trying to take advantage of you or is in some way trying to draw you into their drama or negativity just say no!
No is a good option if your values are in question
In leadership, there are simply no shortcuts when it comes to your ethics, integrity, and values. If any decision you are weighing ever puts those things in doubt then the answer is always no. Roy Disney was right when he said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier”. Saying no is easy when faced with the prospect of compromising your values.
No is a good option in order to protect your boundaries
At the end of the day, no-one is going to protect your boundaries better than you. Finding your work-life balance is on you. You can’t complain about the imbalances in these areas of your life if you don’t know how to say no. Learning how to say no protects your family time, personal time, and professional time. Know when to say no without apology.
No is a good option simply because you can’t do everything
Regardless of how good you are at what you do, you’re not that great. Neither am I. You are not all things to all people. There are just times when no is in order because you have limitations. Don’t be afraid to embrace your “inner no” voice and own it. You’ll be glad you did.
I’m not advocating saying no just to be contrary or to exhibit a bad attitude or to be less than a team player. I am advocating the reality that at times saying no can be the best course of action for you and it may just be the very thing someone needs to hear. For your own good, peace of mind, and for the sake of those around you learn how to say no.