August 23, 2019

The Art of Saying, “No!”

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Everyone wants the “Yes!” Yes, as in, yes we have a deal, yes, you are hired, yes, we can do that, yes, we are excited to have you as a client, yes, we look forward to your business and on and on.

But what about the times you really need to say, “No!”? If you are an amiable, or someone who likes to please people, or be liked, you are going to have trouble with this one. Walking away from a potential client, customer, contract, or deal is never easy. But sometimes we need too!

A mentor once told me that he would never do business with someone who would not accept wisdom. In his thinking the “fool,” rejects wisdom, but the humble accept it. Don’t get me wrong he had plenty of difficult, or challenging clients, but he did not endure the “fool.”

Our business is fickle. It seems everyone knows something about digital marketing, or design. Enough to make them dangerous. What do I mean? Let’s say you have a plumbing problem and you call the plumber to rescue you. Do you second guess, or question everything the plumber is doing, or do you trust their expertise? I stay out of their way and let them fix whatever is wrong and pay my bill. That’s not to say I’m not interested in the particulars and what was wrong, but I trust the expert. I rely on their wisdom, experience and knowledge of plumbing.

From time to time a client requests our services, but continually second-guesses our methodology, or wisdom. Letting a client go is never easy, but sometimes you just need to do it because if you continue you’re going to suffer in the long run. There’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism, or interest in a project. Afterall, the client is paying the tab. However, micromanagement in the area of your expertise is not worth the time. You will regret it, trust me.

Sometimes you just have to say, “No!” Even when the project is interesting, profitable, and exciting. Learning how to say, “No!,” will save you a lot of time, energy and heartache. Walking away, or saying, “no,” will raise the bar of your company’s standards, expectations and delivery.
When leaders ask their people if they feel like this is something that fits with their company they embolden themselves in a humble way to the very people who will have to carry out the work. When a leader asks if you believe this is something the company should do or not, he/she is empowering you. The leader is valuing your input. Don’t hold back, be honest, be open and be willing to do the work whether the leaders says, “No,” or agrees to the work.

I’ve watched bosses endure insufferable narcissistic tyrants that eventually left and I’ve watched leaders amicable say, “No!,” when they sensed a clash in values, a drain on their team, or micromanager tendencies. I can easily say the latter is preferred to the former. I’ve also watched leaders who called it quits after their team was subjected to constant banter that diminished and belittled their expertise.

Leaders, there’s nothing wrong with walking away, or saying, “No!” Learn to do it with humility and class. And if you find yourself wishing you had said no, talk to your people and assess the merits of the investment. You will be glad you did!

Monty Carter
Storyteller/Brand Strategist WebSpeak Media

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