When you're an entrepreneur or executive, it might feel like you're spending half of your day dealing with demands for your time, and not all of them are positive ones.
See if you can identify with this example:
- If your head of engineering requires input on a new design or functionality, please contact us.
- An old colleague wants to hook up with you through Zoom.
- You've received a request from someone in your network to introduce them to someone else in your network.
- After being passed up for an interview, a candidate wants to make one more attempt at collecting feedback.
- You've never met an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to buy you coffee and "pick your brain."
And that's it for now. As the week begins, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of requests that come in.
It's no secret that time is your most important and scarcest asset as a founder or CEO. Learn to say no at work. It's one of the most crucial — most underutilized — of all leadership techniques.
You can't say "yes" to every request. And you'll probably have trouble reaching your maximum potential as long as you're still striving to satisfy everyone else.
'Yes' Can Be Dangerous in the Long Run
In the moment, it's simple to say "yes" to everyone. When we don't want to spend too much time thinking about the "correct" option, this is usually our natural reaction.
Accepting every request, on the other hand, tends to lead to one of two outcomes. You can choose from one of two options:
- So many urgent but trivial things on your calendar that you spend every day spinning your wheels without making any progress.
- Because you take on more duties than you can realistically complete, your reputation in your network suffers as a result.
When you over commit, either your business or your network suffers as a result. If you do this for a long enough period of time, you will not only burn out, but you will also burn bridges and lose the trust of those who mean most to you.
As it turns out, though, most of us already grasp the importance of saying "no" at work. We don't need to be instructed when to say no since most of us know when to say it. When it comes to rejecting requests, humans have a very good sense.
The underlying difficulty is that, while knowing that we should say "no," we don't always follow through. Before we can discuss how to say "no," we must first understand what is preventing us from saying it.
There are several reasons why it is difficult to say "no".
At its most fundamental, saying "no" does not feel pleasant. Last but not least, do you enjoy being rejected? In the vast majority of instances, the answer is most likely no. Having experienced rejection ourselves, we avoid doing it to others.
A bit more investigation is necessary, though. "No" is seen as a threat by our brain when we hear it. Amygdala or the "fight-or-flight" control region of our brains goes into overdrive when our brains detect a threat, as study has revealed.
This mode limits our ability to think critically and makes us more impulsive, reactionary and hasty in our responses to potential threats." However, in the current world, when "danger" is merely being rejected, this approach isn't as useful as it once was.
Daniel Goleman (@DanielGolemanEI) calls it a "amygdala hijack" despite the fact that our brains interpret saber-toothed tigers and rejection in much the same manner.
For this reason, we frequently refrain from saying "no" in one of two ways:
- Either we say "yes" to avoid creating an unpleasant or hostile situation, or we ignore the request in hopes that it would be forgotten or resolved on its own.
- Choosing to ignore a request is frequently more effective than just responding "yes." Let's have a look at the reasons why.
The difference between saying "no" and ignoring someone.
To disregard a request may appear unpleasant or socially harmful on the surface. A lot of people ignore requests now, but it's become so regular that it's no longer just acceptable, it's expected.
Look no farther than Facebook and LinkedIn. You'll receive unsolicited Friend or Connection requests from time to time. Both networks don't have a "reject" button.
If you choose "Delete Request," Facebook will not notify the sender of the deletion.
These events are not a mere coincident. My guess is both businesses conducted significant A/B testing to determine whether consumers prefer to "reject" or "ignore" unwelcome request requests.
It's a great way to deal with rejection when you're not emotionally engaged in a relationship or request. As a result, it may not be appropriate in every scenario. As an example, Anyone who cares about you will not allow you to disregard their plea. In these situations, saying no is frequently the only option.
Say "no, not right now" (or "yes, but not right now" if you want).
A lot of the time, you'll be asked to do something that you sincerely want to do but are unable to do so for whatever reason.
Consider letting them know that you're willing to help if they'll come back later instead of closing the door. Firstly, the other person will appreciate your eagerness to assist, even if you are unable to do so in the moment, and secondly, there's a high possibility that their problem will have been resolved by the time you are available, removing the need to meet.
Speak up and say, "Yes, but I'm out."
Occasionally, you'll receive requests from people you'd like to assist but are unable to do so. Then, ask yourself: Who do I know who could provide a hand to this individual?
See whether either party is interested in interacting with you by reaching out to both parties — the individual seeking aid as well as the person who can offer assistance. Despite the fact that you won't be the one to complete the request, you may still be incredibly helpful by introducing someone who can accomplish it.
Just Say No.
Do you have a pending request that should be rejected? Instead, offer a viable, useful alternative, using the methods listed above.
Afterwards, check your calendar. Unknowingly, have you committed to any forthcoming engagements? Are there any engagements that you could cancel without causing any big problems?
If this is the case, you should cancel them. When you have more time, invest it on the things that are genuinely important.
There are so many ways to say what you think or what you feel, just try to say what is in your heart, but be careful, don´t use words or an attitude that can make feel the other person ofended, just choose the right words, specially for the ones that you love the most.