Never Say No Immediately

It’s often easier to say ‘yes’ than ‘no’ to activities, especially when there’s no pressing competition for your time. It may also play on the idea that otherwise you might be missing out (and you might).

However  saying ‘yes’ can also get you involved in all sorts of auxiliary activities, often because tasks veer off in directions you hadn’t expected or want (and weren’t made fully aware of). So it then pays to say ‘no’.

Here’s some helpful tips to consider if you’re thinking about saying ‘no’ (to an idea, a project or whatever). It’s an edited extract from a longer article at A List Apart that motivates them in the context of software design and development. As explained in the article, the following points are takeaways from a book, The Power of a Positive No, by William Ury.

  • Never say no immediately. Don’t react in the heat of the moment, or you might say something you don’t really mean.
  • Be specific in describing your interests. When saying no, it’s better to describe what you’re for rather than what you’re against.
  • Have a plan B. There will be times that other people just won’t take your no for an answer. So you’re going to need a plan B as a last resort.
  • Express your need without neediness. Desperation is never attractive and won’t get you anywhere.
  • Present the facts and let the other draw their own conclusions. I’d venture to guess that most of the time you’re working with people who are pretty smart, pretty logical, and pretty well-intentioned.
  • The shorter it is, the stronger it is. The longer the argument, the sloppier and less well-thought out it appears. You don’t need five reasons why something won’t work; just one good one will do.
  • As you close one door, open another. Don’t be a wet blanket. If you strongly believe that something shouldn’t be done, devise an alternative that people can get behind.
  • Be polite. Ninety-nine times out of 100 we’re talking about issues of mild discomfort and dissatisfaction, not life-or-death issues.
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