Did I just say Yes? 4 Simple Steps to a Positive No

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss 

 Julie walked into her coaching session looking exhausted, harassed and upset.

“I have just said that I will run the cake stall at the school fair next month. I really didn’t want to…I can’t spare the time, I have a million other things that I need to be doing… my mouth was saying yes, as inside I was screaming ‘no’!”

Sound familiar? How many times have you said yes, when you would have liked to say no?

Time is one of the most precious commodities for the business woman today. Lack of time is one of the most frequent problems I hear as a coach. Your ability to say ‘No’ is one of the most effective time management tools you have.

Too often you are imagining in advance what the other’s reaction to your ‘No’ will be – What will they think of you? What will happen to your relationship? Will they still do business with you?

You are thinking of what your ‘No’ is against. You can however view your ‘No’ in another way. You can start with what you want and instead of what you don’t want.

Step #1: Say yes to your interests and needs

Slow down – Stopping is all important because it interrupts your own unconscious reaction. It buys you time to think.

I am sorry but this is not a good time to talk about this – let’s talk after lunch

Let me make a phone call/check my diary/look at my action list to check before I give you answer

Step #2: Listen to your emotions

Suppressing your emotions drives them underground where they leak out either slowly or in an explosion of uncontrolled behaviour.

Once you have the time you can listen to your emotions and understand them. Think of yourself as having or experiencing the emotion rather than ‘being’ them. When you ‘are’ your emotions, you are naturally impelled to act them out. When you ‘have’ an emotion, it allows you to experience it, to manage it, without being possessed by it.

 Step #3: Uncover your interests and needs

No is your position, a statement of what you do not want. Your interests and needs are what you are saying ‘Yes’ to. They are your wants, desires, concerns, core motivations and, importantly, your values.

  • Why do I want to say No to this?
  • What really matters to me?
  • What are my true priorities?
  • What do I value and is right for me?

Step #4: Whether or How

Often we confuse whether and how. We cannot imagine how we are going to say ‘No’ so the whether seems to be predetermined. However distinguishing between the two allows us:

1.  To consider whether it is the right thing for us

2.  And if it is not the right for us, to move onto the next phase of how we are going to say no.

If you want to know more about this technique, check-out this short video from William Ury:

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This process helped Julie move on: “So I felt able to say that I would not run the cake stall. I would bake some cakes and I was able to use this as an activity with my children, thus spending some fun time with them. I now wonder why I had created this conflict in my mind.”

I highly recommend William Ury’s book, The Power of a positive NO, which you can review and order by clicking on the book jacket. 

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