The Art of "No"
Leaders are often told and say that they need to say “yes” as often as they can. People have needs and desires, and the truth is, we should be known as affirming and positive people. But there’s another side to it as well. Tony Blair said, “The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes.” Warren Buffets attributed his success to only saying yes to a few profitable opportunities, and no to the others.Let’s take a look at this thought. The truth is, there are times when you should say no. Saying yes when no is the right answer dilutes your leadership, distracts you from what is more important, disrespects your values and your time, and disempowers you. You end up living someone else’s life and values when you can’t say no. You give up the steering wheel of your life to others.A wise and good no is about giving space and energy to say yes to what matters most. William Ury, author of The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes, says that saying no is today’s biggest challenge. I imagine most of us would easily agree. So what keeps us from saying no?Some of us have a problem with weak boundaries. No one else knows what we have going on but us, and it is easy to take on too many commitments. We often feel obligated to people and projects that we know are only taking time that we can’t really spare. Our stress levels rise and everything suffers.Practice saying no to commitments, obligations, and requests from others that you don’t truly believe in or that you know won’t serve you well in the long run. This frees up time and energy for the people and activities that are of most value to you. No matter how loved and well-meaning they are, other people’s wishes are not always in line with our own. We must be honest when we are unable to meet those wishes or demands, for our own health and the health of the relationship. Although this may not always be comfortable and is challenging, it is an important component of living your best, most honest life.Both no and yes responses are part of the same development process, which is learning to discern and communicate your innermost feelings. We are constantly being told what our feelings should be and how we should respond through advertisements, upbringing, and general culture. You don’t HAVE to say no to others just to say no, but it is important to be aware and clear about what you actually want and value.,There will be times when you will not know immediately what you truly want. You will need to pause and reflect for a moment, deeply considering the decision you’re about to make. Have the courage to follow through on how you feel, making choices that are true to the person you really are.People often remark that they have trouble with time management. They don't have enough time in the day. They are always running behind. They rarely meet deadlines. If only they could manage their time better. Saying one short little word - no - can be the most important time management skill you can develop. Maybe when growing up we were told that it's not nice to tell people no. And now, after all these years, we still feel guilt when we don't comply with someone else's wishes. When others press for a yes, they may continue because we say words we think and hope are conveying “probably not” but the others are thinking “probably yes.” Words like- Maybe- Let me think about it- I'll get back with you- I need to check my calendar- We'll see.Here’s the thing. We don’t owe an explanation for saying no. We can be kind and firm and communicate respect and value while saying no.I appreciate you thinking of me, but I cannot.I respect the fact that you want me to attend; please respect the fact that I cannot.I'm honored that you invited me; however, I must decline.I would love to, but my schedule does not permit another item on my calendar.This sounds like a great opportunity, but at this time my family needs my attention.Your request is tempting, but when I agree to do something I give it 100%. At this time I know I would not be able to do that, so rather than disappoint you and myself, I must pass.Remember, saying no is not selfish. Saying no is not rude. Saying no is not wrong.Saying no to others is saying yes to yourself. You can’t say YES to everything and excel at anything.Only those who know who they are can say NO with grace. You can say no like a leader and respect yourself.