Knowing How to Say NO

You may be sick of hearing this, but it’s true: the world is changing! We live in an era of rapid development and each day our world becomes more complex and interconnected than it ever was before. And as our world becomes more complicated, so does our work.

There are “asks” coming from everyone we know. Those “asks” may be big or small. They may come from friends, family, clients, coworkers, and even acquaintances. And they’re coming across every possible communication platform we have today. You have to ask yourself: how is it possible to handle all of these “asks” when you are just one person?

The short answer is: it’s not.

You could not possibly take the time to complete every request that is made by all these people across all these platforms. While the development of technology certainly helps us to handle more today than ever before, it’s important to remember that you are a human being and you still have limits. You can’t say “yes” to everyone’s “asks” and do all of them to the best of your ability — you don’t have the capacity. So, what do you do?

You learn how to say “no.”

This sounds much easier than it truly is, but the good news is that it’s not something you have to figure out on your own. One tool that helps with this is a book written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson called It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

In their book, Jason and David devote an entire essay to saying “no,” called Know no. In it, they talk about what it means when you say no, and how that compares to yes. While you may not have thought about saying “yes” in this way before, Jason and David hit the nail on the head when they say:

“No is easier to do, yes is easier to say. No is no to one thing. Yes is no to a thousand things.”

When you continually say yes, you are stretching yourself thin and directly limiting your ability to accomplish the things that are truly important. Stop and ask yourself, every time you are asked to say “yes”: “What’s the worst that can happen if I do not spend any time on this?”

You will start to find that you don’t actually have to be saying “yes” to all these “asks,” you have just gotten so used to what Jason and David call “towering, unrealistic expectations” that drag you down. When you stop and say “no” to some of the tasks that are flying your way, you can devote more time to the ones that really matter.

So, as a simple challenge to you: at least once today, say “no.”

To find Jason Fried and David Heinemeier’s book, It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work, click here.

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