If you are an entrepreneur, you know this is a whopper of a conversation. The late Steve Jobs once said: “Focus is about saying no.”Ain’t that the truth. Don’t over-clutter your calendar with commitments that derail your focus, pulling you away from the work that you truly want to do.It’s not good for your career. It’s not good for your soul.
Thinking you are a bad person for saying no is a symptom of "the disease to please." "Saying yes when you need to say no causes burnout. You do yourself and the person making the request a disservice by saying yes all of the time," says author Duke Robinson.
Here’s your five-part formula for saying “no”:
1.) Start with a compliment if one fits the situation.
2.) Give your answer.
3.) Say thank you.
4.) Encourage the person.
5.) Change the subject or excuse yourself.
Here’s an Example for When Someone Wants Free Advice:
“Thanks for remembering that I’m an accountant, Tyler. I don’t like to give advice outside the office. I’m in “home” mode and might misquote. I’d be happy to meet you at my office. Here’s my card. My website has my hours, fees, and a list of everything you’ll need to bring with you to our first meeting. Give me a call, and we’ll set up a time that’s convenient for you.”
Mentioning that your fees are on your website lets the person know that you’re not considering giving free advice.
For moms and dads:
#6 is so true
Still not confident to say no? Read on!
Say it Fast
Don’t keep your friend or colleague hanging for days or weeks, hoping they'll “forget” about it. They won’t.
Depending on the nature of your relationship, you may want to explain why you’re saying no. But don’t over-explain or give your entire life story. That’s not necessary.
In the example above, I mentioned that I have a particularly busy week. Period.
In some instances, no explanation is required. But for close friends, it can often be a nice touch. If you’re concise and honest, friends will (almost) always understand.
Propose Something Else
The key to crafting a gentle “no” is to include an alternative form of support. Think: a link to a helpful blog post, a resource, a worksheet, a few quick tips, or a referral or personal introduction to someone who might be able to help.
This “alternative” should obviously be something that you are willing to give (or do)— because it is easier, less complicated, or less time-consuming, it doesn’t cost money, or it just feels good for you to offer. Not something that takes more of your time.
Now hit the road with your powerful no's. You got this! Give it a try.