Recently I had the opportunity to post my thoughts on saying “No” nicely on Michelle Villalobos’ blog. It got me thinking about this subject. So many times entrepreneurs get themselves into sticky situations because they just felt uncomfortable saying no. It may be due to the politeness factor or the likability factor. Whichever it is, the truth is that being unable to say “no” can be detrimental to your business.
When it comes to the politeness factor, I believe it is misleading to think that saying “yes” is always the polite thing to do. Frankly, it isn’t–especially when someone has asked you to do something you don’t want to do, don’t have time to do, or that doesn’t fit with your business plan. That’s not polite; it’s silly.
If you think about it, you are really lying to the other person. You’ve said “yes” to something that you wanted to say “no” to. Can you think back to a time when this happened? Did you end up being upset with yourself, the other person, the task, the inconvenience? I know I have. The problem here is that you create a situation where you are operating under the wrong circumstances. Now you are getting in your own way. That’s not exactly conducive to growing your business, is it?
If we visit the likability factor for a minute, we quickly find that saying “yes” when we’d rather say “no” doesn’t work here, either. We want to be liked so we say “yes” – to everyone! But then we don’t like ourselves or our situation. We end up being stressed and unhappy. But we have no one to blame but ourselves — because we put ourselves in this position. I submit it doesn’t make people like us more. Once again, we are not really being truthful with them, and that’s not likable.
So, what do we do? Well, I believe in two things – clarity and honesty. These two things can keep us centered and moving down the right path for our business and our relationships.
- Clarity – having a very clear picture of where you are going and how you are going to get there. When you can see your destination clearly, you can develop the roadmap for getting there.
- Honesty – being honest with yourself and others will keep you on your path.
When we combine these two elements, we find that once we have clarity, it is easier to be honest. Now we can say “no” with a reason that isn’t “I just don’t want to do that.’”We can say, “I’m sorry but I can’t do that right now. I have a clear and specific path that I’m on with my business and I’ve promised myself that I won’t deviate from it.”
Now who could argue with that? It’s honest; it’s polite; it’s sincere. And I submit it shows real professionalism and direction. You may even find other people modeling that behavior! This process actually improves your likability. Now you’ve turned something that once felt like a negative into a positive. Nice job!