It’s Neither Selfish or Rude and It’s Important to Your Success

Businessman Swamped with Work

Businessman Swamped with Work

What’s the fastest way to derail your carefully planned day of progress and productivity? Say yes. You’ve likely already heard that the most successful people in business learned early to avoid diluting their focus. Warren Buffet says, “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

You might be thinking, ‘Easy for one of the richest people in the world to say. I’ve got to live in the real world.’ Here’s the thing. Learning to say no puts you more in the real world. At least the world that will directly impact you.

Urgent Versus Important

There’s the stuff you know you must do today. It’s important. Then there’s the stuff for which you didn’t plan. It’s mostly not of your own doing. A co-worker’s unexpected request for information. A deadline that gets reassigned.

The more of these urgent tasks you accept, the less of the important things you’ll accomplish. Some are unavoidable. Take those off the table for discussion. What we want to focus on here are the things you say yes to, when you should have said no.

We say yes to avoid saying no because we’ve trained ourselves to believe that no is negative.

Diffusing the Negativity of No

You say yes to things because you’re genuinely a nice person, and nice people aren’t rude. No seems like one of those words that only rude people use. “No” needs to get some reputation management. It’s time to re-frame No. Often, we couple saying no with an explanation that includes the words “I can’t.”

Just saying this is a negative hit to your productivity. “I can’t” communicates you’re not able to do something even if you’d like to. I can’t help you right now because… Wow, you’re that helpless?

Didn’t think so.

What seems like a harmless way to avoid disappointing others has a harmful impact on your self-esteem. “I can’t” affirms a belief that you are limited or restricted. Wouldn’t you rather empower yourself?

Ditch “I can’t.” Replace it with “I don’t.”

Which of these statements is going to put a kick in your productivity today?

  • “I can’t eat those potato chips because they’re unhealthy.”
  • “I don’t eat those potato chips because they’re unhealthy.

Use the power of “don’t” versus “can’t” when framing your decisions on what others request of you. You’ll feel better about yourself.

Don’t Be Wimpy

Saying no isn’t rude or disrespectful. It’s courteous and shows you are aware that you can’t be productive or effective if you don’t keep your own priorities. It seems counterintuitive, but people will like and respect you more when you are authentic with saying no.

People who learn to politely say no are viewed as self-reliant. Many will tell you that those around them learn to become more self-reliant as a result, too. So, there’s a pretty awesome hidden bonus in saying no!

Besides, a quick agreement can often lead to the discovery that you’re not even the best person for the request. “I don’t believe I’m the best person to help you with this” is a polite way of saying no. Your expectation is that the requestor will be disappointed. It’s more likely that you’ve just elevated their opinion of your abilities.

Remember that you always have a choice. You’ll be more successful and productive if you say yes to your priorities, and no to what other people want you to make a priority. Work your way from yes to no. In a short period of time, you’ll find you have more of it to help others.

We say yes a lot. But, we still practice what we preach. The reason we’ve gotten to such a strong “yes” level is because we’ve been helping customers with customized solutions for over 35 years. It means we’ve built up an in-house die library of over 5,000 ways we can instantly get you most of the way to a finished product, instead of starting from scratch. It’s one of the reasons why we hardly ever have to say, “We can’t help you.”