It’s Okay to Say No

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I believe as humans, it is our natural inclination to say yes, to want to help others. I also believe that we can overwhelm ourselves or overload our schedules by saying yes too often.My personalty is the type that is driven to succeed, but at the same time has a hard time saying no to people. Why?  I want to help others, I see it as a challenge and to a certain extent because I don’t want to disappoint others.Like most professionals, I receive requests for help or assistance in certain areas; things that I may have more knowledge of , and typically I will try to help when appropriate.  But this does not mean that every request that can be or should be honored nor does it mean that the assistance should be free.As a consultant in marketing, social media and business development, my time is what I have to charge for.  I do not sell a product like a widget, I sell my knowledge and my time.  This does not mean that I won’t enjoy a cup of coffee with you or lunch and won’t discuss business.  It does mean that once the discussion is about my areas of consultation, we will discuss rates.It is also okay to say no to requests for recommendations. Do you use LinkedIn?  If not, cruise on over and sign up; build your network and connections sensibly and ask for recommendations from former co-workers, colleagues and friends.  A word of caution; if you have not talked to someone or had any communications or connections with them recently, it’s not a good idea to ask for a recommendation.  This recently happened to me; the person that asked for the recommendation is a fine person, but they have not spoken to me in years.  I have no recent basis of how to recommend this person.I think it’s okay to say no. What do you think and how do you politely say no?

Comments

  1. John, I agree with you that saying no is ok. Asking for a reference when you have not seen someone in a long time or interacted with them in a long time is not a good idea. How could you give a reference justice when you do not know what someone else has been doing for that period of time.I agree with the fact that assistance should not be free. It seems people like to see how far they can get. I usually offer to meet for an hour as a consultant and before the consult tell them my hourly rate is x dollars an hour. I also remind the prospective client diplomatically that the consult is to work on a scope of work and put a price on the task at hand not to solve their issues. Just my two sense worth:)

  2. Danielle I love the idea of giving yourself 24 hours before committing either way! That is a GOLD nugget of information! Thank you!

  3. I have been in the same shoes as you Paul, as well as Ted; stretching myself to the point of getting sick. No more; I support my clients, close friends and my Alliance members….other, we discuss rates for projects 🙂 Thanks for sharing the link; great advice!

  4. Thank you Gina!! We all have to balance helping friends versus giving away our services and stretching ourselves too thin!! I appreciate your comments!

  5. It’s Okay to Say No « VirtualExec-Assist says:

    […] Okay to Say No It’s Okay to Say No.  (Thanks to John […]

  6. Danielle Miller says:

    LOVE, LOVE this post John!OK first-Ted glad to hearing you are feeling better…we highly underestimate the mind/body connection until our body says it’s had enough! Gina-lol love Paul’s bumper sticker…that’s awesome!Paul-Glad you are taking care of yourself too my friend…you’re a cyclone of activity! Nice to hear you are resting and recharging!John, this is such a timely post right now. Those of whose expertise lies in the information business have a very difficult time blending the desire to help and the fact that we are NOT non-profits! 😉 (particularly in the this age of instant information!) and social media.When I coach people who have difficulty saying no, I have found that there are 2 strategies I use quite often. One is: give your mind a "cushion"; in other words, rarely do you need to say "yes" immediately. Give yourself 24 hours before you commit either way. And the second one is: When you say to one thing, you are saying yes to a high priority…("Yes" to valuing your expertise, talents and abilities!)Totally rockin post John!Warmly,Danielle

  7. Very good points Ted!! I agree completely, our head and mouth will say yes to the detriment of our bodies! Hope you are recovering and please take it easy!!

  8. VirtualExec-Assist » Blog Archive » It’s Okay to Say No says:

    […] It’s Okay to Say No. Share and Enjoy: […]

  9. Hey JL,Great post, and you read my mind as well. I’ve come to the point where I’m sick (I feel you, Ted!), and not really enjoying the quality of my work, my relationships, my life – because "yes" has ruled my life. I have no problem saying "no" now, but I think that everybody has to learn the hard way – to be overwhelmed, stretched out, too see themselves dropping the ball when they’re spread to thin – to really appreciate and see the value of "no." For myself, it’s not fair to my family, closest friends, my clients, my business, things that I enjoy, etc.One of the other blogs I subscribe to – Zen Habits – has a great list of "Ways to Say ‘No’" – hope this’ll help at all to you and your audience? http://zenhabits.net/say-no/

  10. John,I think you were reading my mind this week. If your head nods "yes" all the time, the rest of the body will find ways of saying "no way, Jose," including shutting itself down. I’ve been running from one project or event to another for the past month or so. The deadlines became so overwhelming that I worked even later into the night. This past week, my body finally gave up on me and I suffered a horrible flu that kept me in bed all day Friday and Saturday. I’m recovering from my exhaustive month and overcoming this bad flu, but it’s great reminder that saying yes all the time puts your mental and physical well being in jeopardy.Cheers,Ted

  11. Gina parris says:

    I think this is great advice to those of us heavily involved in social media too. I can almost lose sleep thinking of unanswered messages, tweets, postings…when in reality – I just can’t connect with every single person every time. I wouldn’t have felt bad ignoring a rec. request from someone who hasn’t connected for any other reason in a long time.Ted, I’m so sorry that you found yourself so far under the weather from the stress of it all. Maybe we can all learn to operate on a gracious time-line. My husband always loves the bumper sticker that said, "Yes, this is my truck. No, I won’t help you move!" He wouldn’t be able to say "NO" either! ha ha ha

  12. Perfect timing on this post it sounds like! I have been caught in the "yes" trap plenty. It’s easy to fall into as most of the time I don’t realize it’s happening- I’m just like you, trying to please people without realizing what it’s going to cost me in time, energy, or productivity. I’m glad you mentioned the requests for recommendation too! I’ve not been sure on how to navigate that. Maybe your next post could be the various (polite) ways to say no. Good post and ideas, keep up the good work!

  13. Rochelle Veturis says:

    Oh, John. When I read the title of this post, I knew I wanted to save it for a moment when I could read it, read it again and savor every sentence. Thank you for this excellent and eloquent reminder. And I particularly like this nugget, "once the discussion is about my areas of consultation, we will discuss rates." It’s important to remember that our knowledge and expertise IS valuable; IS worth a price, and likely, will be treasured more by someone who has paid for it.And Danielle, I really like your 24-hour-window piece of advice. That "gracious buffer," as Gina described, can be very freeing. Love you all. Thank you for the simulating, and honest discussion.

  14. John, I agree with you that saying no is ok. Asking for a reference when you have not seen someone in a long time or interacted with them in a long time is not a good idea. How could you give a reference justice when you do not know what someone else has been doing for that period of time.I agree with the fact that assistance should not be free. It seems people like to see how far they can get. I usually offer to meet for an hour as a consultant and before the consult tell them my hourly rate is x dollars an hour. I also remind the prospective client diplomatically that the consult is to work on a scope of work and put a price on the task at hand not to solve their issues. Just my two sense worth:)

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