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Saying No - Without Making
I chair a committee for a local charity that was in financial dire straits due to the reallocation of funds as a result of 9-11 relief efforts. Our organization lost $85,000 in funding for the year and was barely able to pay the rent. My committee was in charge of getting this message out to past donors quickly in hopes of sustaining the organization.
Two weeks after the donor contact information was given to the committee members, I e-mailed the committee to see how they were doing with their calls.
Here is one of the responses:
"Things have been crazy busy at work and I have not been able to make the calls yet and I'm leaving on vacation after tomorrow until Monday which means I will have a lot to catch up on when I get back. I will try to make the calls as soon as humanly possible."
What did this woman really want to say? She wanted to say she was sorry, but had over committed her time and would not be able to make the calls.
|She had wanted to say she was sorry...Instead she made herself sound like a frazzled mess|
Instead, she made herself sound like a frazzled mess who placed the calls at the bottom of her To Do list.
It would have been so much more powerful if she had just admitted that she had over committed and simply couldn't make the calls. Listing all the things that made her day busy and more important than the calls, also made her appear unprofessional.
A more effective way to handle the situation would have been to say, "I apologize for not finishing the calls as promised, unfortunately, I have over-committed my time. These calls are important and shouldn't be put off any longer. Is there someone else on the committee who has some additional time to make them?"
This approach would have shown that she recognized she would not be able to fulfill her promise, but is adult enough to admit it and let someone else make the calls in an effort not to make matters worse. When I asked the woman if she would like someone else to make the calls for her, she jumped at the opportunity.
If someone asks you to do something that you are unable to do or don't want to do-simply say, "no".
Here are some examples of ways to say no, without losing friends or getting fired.
You are asked to a party you are unable to attend:
You say: "Thank you for the invitation, though I already have other commitments for that time."
You say: "My schedule is packed that day and I won't be able to make it."
You say: "It's been a rough week and I planned to stay home that night and take time for myself. Thanks for the invitation."
Your boss asks you to handle a project you couldn't possibly finish on time.
You say: "Our department is currently involved with three other projects. In order to finish this project on time, one of those projects will need a time extension or to be delegated to another department. Is there someone else who can handle this project or can one of our other projects be delegated to another team?"
You say: "Can the deadline for this project be extended to the end of the month?" If 'no', then use the answer above.
You say: "That project will require my undivided attention. Which of the other items we are working on can I delegate to Mike?"
Sitting in the food court in the mall one Saturday afternoon, I overheard a woman telling her husband about a ridiculous request made to her by her boss. The husband asked her how she responded to the request and his exasperated wife exclaimed, "It's my boss! What was I going to say…no?"
Saying "no" effectively is a powerful tool. Those who say no successfully have more control over their schedules and feel more in control of their lives, especially when it comes to saying no to authority figures.
It's a tiny word, but is jam packed with power. Learn how to use is effectively and you will increase your power exponentially.
Kirstin Carey is an award-winning professional speaker and consultant who brings nearly a dozen years of marketing communications experience to her company: Orange Tree Training & Speaking Group. Based just outside of Philadelphia, Carey works with all levels of corporate management – from CEOs to sales associates – and provides one-on-one counsel to entrepreneurs, business leaders and other professionals. For more details about Kirstin's services and to subscribe to her informative Juicy Bits & Pieces E'Zine , visit the company's web site.
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