Loved for saying no?
In a column last month (“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should“) I suggested that capable, busy women like you need to be picky about the way you spend your time. I offered the mantra ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’ which caused Christine to get on the blower to delve into my ideas on how to say no – one of the mantra’s necessary and implicit skills – for her latest feature in a Gulf magazine. So here’s how to say no and be loved for it. Yes, really.
I’m of the belief that saying no is rarely empowering. It’s isn’t the route to feeling good (despite what certain self-help books may suggest) and it doesn’t do much for any adult relationship. Let’s save the word ‘no’ for our children (and even then in a measured way) and for people who don’t take no for an answer.
Rather than go into clients lives to pull out examples here are some scenarios where I’ve protected my priorities without saying ‘no’.
Request: I’d love to chat to you about a feature I’m writing, can I get 45 minutes with you on Thursday or Friday?
Reply: Really happy to help, I’ve got 15-20 minutes on Friday between 9-10am and there’s likely to be a 4 year old chipping in too. It’s my day with my daughter and I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing a bit of our time with you. Does that suit if I call you between those times?
Result: Happy journalist. Happy Jessica. Happy daughter on Jessica’s knee.
Request: My friend would get so much out of a couple of coaching sessions with you but she can’t afford it at the moment. Would you consider a freebie?
Reply: What’s happening in your friend’s world? [short conversation ensues]. Let me forward you a couple of my past Flourishing Female mailings that I think could hit the spot for your friend. Do suggest she signs up for them – it’s easy and free and that’s where she’ll get signposts to offers and other possible avenues of support.
Result: She went away with a good feeling because I’d done something to help her friend. Retellings of that story are met with nods of approval and greater respect for my work.
Request: You’d be a great person to give feedback to a team of volunteer parent gym coaches in training, could you join us at our development day in London next week (unpaid)?
Reply: Wonderful to hear the volunteer team is growing and please pass my best wishes on and signpost them to the film I made about Parent Gym – it’s such a brilliant cause they’re all getting involved in. I’m not in a position to offer up a day of my time next week although if some of the coaches are looking for ongoing support or someone to bounce ideas around with then please pass them my number.
Result: Geethika was a bit disappointed I wouldn’t pitch in but pleased I offered something up by way of help. Supportive, positive vibe remains between the two of us.
What those examples illustrate is the power of a ‘partial yes.’ I’d hate you to think I creatively duck and dive anything that I didn’t put on my own agenda because actually I love left-field requests and getting involved in random things. I’m proud to say I’m flexible as well as focussed. Anything I do let into my diary is usually intrinsically interesting or relevant to my business; offers short term pleasure or contains the potential for long term gain (congruent with my goals). If it ticks all three I’m in – like the project to help mothers get relevant skills and experience on their CV after a long career break. More on that next year.
Until next time may your priorities stay protected and your relationships strong,