It’s such a downer to say no to people especially when you would like to please the person that may be asking of a favor or assistance. I know this because I have said yes when at times I’ve thought no would have been more appropriate, but I’d think to myself "Yes I can make it happen. I’ve got my red cape and boots in my closet ready to whip out to save the day." It’s great to say yes and perhaps explore a new experience or gain some new knowledge, but there are times when no is the appropriate answer. I’ve gotten a lot better over the years at saying no and applying the yes philosophy from Jim Carries’ 2008 Yes Man movie sparingly especially because I’ve been on the receiving end of a yes that should have been a no. Recently I had an experience where a friend said yes to me and the answer should have been no. I was really disappointed. I conversed with my friend on my thoughts and accepted the apology for not providing honest expectations. What I realized afterwards is that what can get sacrificed in the 'Yes man’ approach are valuable and intangible commodities: time, respect and trust. If you are always saying yes and feel like no should be the answer to a request you receive consider asking yourself the following to help you verbalize the needed 'No Man’ response: Is there a win-win? Am I valuing our time? What are my core values again?
It’s a lot easier to say yes when the favor, task or plan arranged works for both parties. If one is going to be at a loss where they sacrifice something they value highly, the request is not urgent/unimportant and it sacrifices completion of other tasks that has higher priority then consider saying No. It’s not selfish. It’s honoring yourself and the other party. Find the Win-Win as Stephen Covey suggest in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Saying yes and being unable to follow through can be worst than saying no and respecting yours and the other person’s time.
Speaking of time your time and my time are priceless, valuable, irreplaceable. We can’t grow it and pick it from a tree. It’s passing us by each second of the day. If it’s not a win-win and you feel the answer is not an absolute YES tell the person you are interacting with how you really feel. Here’s an example of a conversation I recently had with my friend. She is a consultant. Both her and I help each other in our consulting and coaching businesses. I asked if she could take head shots of me. She expressed the following: "I’d love to help you, but my schedule is a bit hectic these days. If you need it immediately I can’t do it but if you can work with these dates I can make it happen. Does that work for you?” My answer was no and I moved on and found an alternative solution. No heart break in the exchange. It was purely honest communication. She respects her time and mine as well. I am happy to continue interacting with her. Time is valuable. Valuing your time is respectable. Valuing your time and others times is commendable.
Saying yes when the answer should be no may seem like a nice and polite approach until you can’t follow through. What happens when you can’t meet expectations is that trust in reliability and in your ability to communicate what is possible and what is not possible is lost. Imagine you list all your values and they are drawn together in the form of a tire on a car. With trust being one of your core values missing integrity in your value wheel is lost. Trust is a core value that makes good relationships great.
It’s not a bad thing to say no especially when you keep in mind that what makes relationships last longer is trust, understanding and respect. Keeping the lines of communication open with a person you feel inclined to say no to is important, and sharing the scope of what can be compromised when you’d like to say yes but will need to say no can save you some guilt, remorse and having to rebuild trust. Consider your values and what makes up your wheel of integrity before committing to the ‘Yes Man' approach.
"Innovation is not about saying yes to everything. It's about saying NO to all but the most crucial features." - Steve Jobs