The biggest time saver of all – saying no With the holidays upon us, we are faced with demands on time from a variety of friends, family, work, charities, churches and communities. It is very easy to over commit and to have days filled with obligations and promises. Even beyond the holidays, the constant barrage of youth sports, community outreach, charitable activities and family obligations can fill any calendar. The solution? The art of saying no. And it is an art. Saying no correctly will give the gift of time, the gift of using your time the way you want to spend it and gives the opportunity to really make a difference with family, work and community. Herewith is my three step plan for saying no. Follow this plan in this exact order to make saying no an art form. 1. Say no quickly. As soon as possible in a conversation gently insert the no word. You may have to repeat it but be gently persistent in using the word no. 2. Offer an explanation. This is an opportunity to temper the no so that there is not a breach in communications or trust. It also humanizes the no to make it palatable. 3. Offer an alternative. This gives you a chance to do what is asked but in a different time or format. It allows an examination of the request and puts additional information in front of the requester. Ready for a real life scenario? The following example will lead you through all three steps with some commentary that will show that there are cases which all three steps are not necessary. Your phone rings on a Thursday evening and it is a colleague from work who is also involved with you in a youth sports program. The colleague says that the youth are going to be going caroling Saturday night with the intent of having fun and requesting canned goods for the local food bank. Following the model, you immediately, gently and firmly say no. It is ok to start off with a remark about how good the idea sounds, but make sure that no is coming pretty quickly. Step two is appropriate here, so you can offer the explanation that you are scheduled for that time. It is not necessary to tell the colleague that you have promised your family a night drive to look at holiday displays. Step three you can offer an alternative, perhaps you can print off some sheet music or provide some drinks for the youth to carry along. All in all, your emotional bank account with your colleague and your family is intact. You have kept a promise and with little effort on your part, you have aided your colleague as well. The three step process should be followed in order, but it is not necessary to do all the steps. That is dependent upon the relationship and the request. A phone call from a telemarketer can be ended with a quick and firm no. In fact, it may be considered a favor to the marketer, allowing him or her to get to the next prospect. A family member may need a step two, an explanation, but a person farther out in your circle may only need to be told you are scheduled. The same logic applies for step three. Offering an alternative should always be your prerogative and for the most part offered without the sense of obligation you may be feeling. Your time is your own; guard it for the type of experiences you want, not to be a slave to obligations but to be a servant to others with the best you can give, time freely given with full attention.
December 19, 2013