I've always loved this visual. The plucky story of internet explorer, the widely lamented ugly duckling of the browser world still having the confidence to ask to be your default browser.
If IE can have the courage to do this, why can't you say no more often?
There many be many reasons to say no. You may disagree with an approach, you may not feel comfortable meeting a deadline being set, you may be a product owner with a lot of stakeholders shouting at you for attention.
Learning to say no, in the right way, is a very powerful skill.
𝗔𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲𝘄𝗮𝘆𝘀 for saying no
- Clearly articulate your rationale - Help the person understand your reasoning for saying no, the 'Why' behind your answer. If someone is able to empathise with your reasoning, rather than it just being a straight no, you'll likely maintain a better working relationship. Be concise and simple but assertive in your answer
- Try 'Not now, but' - Tell the person you'll come back to them when you've had more time to digest things. They may be asking for something that you can't answer with confidence or need the support of others to provide. Don't be afraid of saying 'Not now, but' I'll come back to you
- Set expectations with your teams - That saying no, or disagreeing is healthy conflict and helps avoid homogenous thinking. Patrick Lencioni covers the 5 dysfunctions of a team in his book, one of these dysfunctions is the fear of conflict. Colleagues may feel obliged to say yes, or agree with one another to avoid conflict. Setting expectations and fostering an environment of healthy disagreement can help erode this dysfunction.
- If you're being asked to do too much, flip the question back to the requestor - Let them know you aren't confident of completing everything and request they prioritise the most important items. Let's say you're being asked to do several things in the next 3 weeks and it's overwhelming. Ask the person what they'd like you to focus on in the next 2 weeks so that you can ensure you are able to dedicate your focus and attention to it