It’s always hard to tell someone “no,” but it’s often a necessary evil.
And the most successful people know that how you say “no” can be the difference between maintaining someone’s respect and ruining a relationship.
In a recent LinkedIn post, Brian de Haaff, cofounder and CEO of Aha! Labs Inc., argues that “telling people ‘no’ does not need to be an act of rejection.” In fact, learning to say “no” the right way can actually prove that you’re an attentive teammate, he says.
Here are four things successful people do when saying “no,” according to de Haaff:
1. Understand the request.
Hardly anyone will ask you to do something without a solid reason, so it’s safe to assume that when someone requests a favour, it’s meaningful to them, de Haaff says. Successful people take the time to understand why each request is important to the person asking, as it shows they care even if they don’t have time to help. “Total immersion in the request for even a very short period of time tells the other person that you value them and what they are trying to achieve,” de Haaff explains.
2. Define your vision.
It’s crucial to fully understand your own objectives before you can decide which requests you’re able to dedicate attention to. Successful people take a “goal first” approach, in which they define their major goals and only agree to help with projects that work toward these goals, de Haaff says. Adopting this practice will help you focus on what’s most critical at the time, so you can easily say “no” right away to other requests, instead of stalling and wasting time.
3. Respond quickly.
Successful people don’t wait to answer requests; they promptly give the other person a “yes” or “no” answer. “The key is to digest the information and its importance as quickly as possible so you can get on to the next one,” de Haaff says. Marinating on requests you know you don’t have time for simply because you don’t want to say no wastes everyone’s time. You’ll be more respected for making decisions in a timely manner, even if not everyone likes your choice.
4. Explain why.
Saying “no” without an explanation makes your answer come off harsh because it doesn’t allow the other person to understand where you’re coming from, de Haaff warns. “Explaining the ‘why’ makes the ‘what’ simple to digest,” he says. “You need to be more than just nice.” Successful people aim to be as transparent as possible because they understand that showing the other person their perspective helps them understand both why they have to say “no” and that it’s not personal.
Click here to read the full LinkedIn post.
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