Saturday, May 3, 2014

248- Learn to Say "No" Without Explaining Yourself and Apologize Even Less

"No" is a complete sentence. Practice with me: "No." or "No!" or perhaps "No, but thank you for asking." And "No! But thank you for thinking of me that way!"

Learn to Say "No" Without Explaining Yourself and Apologize Even Less

You are going to be asked by a lot of people to do something for them, for someone else, for an organization, etc. Some requests you will feel obliged to accommodate because the person asking has reciprocated favors to you in the recent past. Others are simply good at asking for help all of the time... these people are probably good at delegating too! Most people are incapable of saying "No!" which happens to be a two-letter complete sentence by itself that requires no explanation at all following the use of it. 

That said, somewhere deep inside people, especially women, feel the need to explain why they are saying "No." Worse yet, they commit themselves to doing something that they really would rather not do because it puts them out in terms of time, energy, resource. Remember Newton's Law of Motion. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you commit to do something, you must give something else up.

For most of us we are trained by our parents and teachers to be helpful. Women are especially trained to be "pleasing." Offering help to someone is a pleasing and nice thing to do. This principal of niceness works really well on the playground. It's not as helpful in adulthood because there is no immediate teacher or aide watching over us and demanding that someone you just helped out of a jam reciprocates helpfulness to you. It might feel good in your heart to commit to helping someone with fundraising, picking up or watching their kids, doing extra work for a school project, etc. 

but when you start reflecting on the personal time you are giving up, doubled with whether or not the asking party has done anything nice for you lately, you can become bitter and resentful quickly. The worst part is, we usually share the resentment and stress with those closest to us - spouses, friends, children, coworkers, etc.

The funny thing about saying "No." is that once you say it, you don't have to say anything else. Just shut your mouth and let it hang in the air. The first person to speak next loses ground! You have no reason in the world to explain why you said "No." Explaining only offers up ground for the asker to persuade you on an area of weakness that you shared in your "mea culpa explanation of how you wish you could but... " And then they pounce on an opportunity they find in your blabber. 

When I learned to sell life insurance at NY Life, they taught us how to overcome every objection possible: "I'm all set, I'm not interested, Call me after the holidays, I have benefits at work... " the only objection they didn't teach us how to overcome was "No." This is because "No means No!" If a person would say anything other than "No" when we attempted and appointment or sale they would be considered a prospect forever.

Lastly, rarely apologize. Apologize when you are dead wrong. Apologize when your actions or inaction has directly hurt someone. Apologize only once and briefly if you made a mistake. Leave it there and move on. If you can fix your mistake without involving the person affected, fix it. In a best case scenario, apologies are offered too soon and too often and only weakens your position and negotiating power with others. In the worst case scenario, apologies open you up for liability (ex. A car accident - never apologize or admit fault. It becomes admissible testimony).

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