SAYING NO to become Effective by Vivek Iyyani

In the previous article, I wrote about the role of Attention in improving productivity. I shared the importance of paying attention to being effective instead of being efficient. To become effective, you need to focus on the ‘Sweet Spot Activities’ that requires minimum inputs that generate maximum outputs.

Some may feel that it is idealistic to focus on one important task until completion in a working environment. With all the distractions of meetings, projects and pieces of training, it can be a challenge to remain focused on completing the most important task. Focusing disproportionate amounts of time on the vital tasks may seem like a Fairytale.

This is where I feel your communication skills matter. Are you able to say ‘No’ to the unnecessary work that finds its way to your desk?

If you struggle with saying no, you probably have some deep-seated fears.

You fear you may insult your colleagues
You fear you may strain your relationship with them
You fear you will be seen as less favourable

Everyone wants to be well liked and accepted. So we end up saying yes at times when we should say no. The problem is not with saying ‘No’. The problem appears when you cannot say no without feeling queasy.

An abrupt ‘NO!’ to a simple request feels uncalled for. Almost like a rough plane landing that leaves everyone rather shaken and shocked.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.Those who have mastered handling such requests are not born with such talents. They have learned how to cope with such situations. They have learnt to say ‘No’.

To overcome these feelings of uneasiness and to empower you to say ‘No’ more to unimportant work, I’ve come up with some useful scripts that allow you to say ‘No’ comfortably.

By using these 5 scripts, you will have a ‘soft landing’ when you say ‘No’.
One of the hardest person to communicate your ‘no’ to is your boss. So when something unimportant lands on your desk, use the “yes, what should I reprioritize” method.

1)Drop It
By letting your boss or teammate know that you’ll have to drop something else in order to get their request done, they’ll frequently move on to somebody else who can squeeze the task into their schedule. 

2) Silencer
You can also use an awkward pause. Use silence to your advantage because if you pause long enough after they request something from you, they will feel the awkward silence and fill the void with a reason to withdraw their request. This will only work if you become comfortable with the silence. People hate silence. It’s weird.

3) The No But
Sometimes, you don’t want to take on a task now but you would consider it sometime in the future. This is where you use a “no, but” method. You can respond by saying, “No, but I could do that tomorrow or day after…is that okay with you?” Most times people will find an alternative option.

4) Calendar Check
Another solution to say no is to use the “let me check my calendar and get back to you” method. This method helps you to buy time and really digest the request that is being thrown at you. At the end of the day, if it’s something you don’t want to take up, you can simply respond by saying you’re not available.

5) Compromise 
You can also go for a ‘compromise no’. Use this in situations when you are willing to say yes if the other party is willing to make the task easier for you to do. This is called the “you are welcome to X, I am willing to Y” response.

If your vendor is asking you for a testimonial, you can simply respond with the “you are welcome to send me a sample testimonial, I am willing to edit it and send it back”

So there you go - 5 new ways to say NO to the unimportant so that you can remain effective at work.

I have a productivity cheat sheet that will help you keep focused on the important work. All you need to do is use it before you start work and reflect on it just before you knock off from work.

Did you find this valuable and helpful? Feel free to comment and ask any questions you may have. Also, share this with your friends.

PS: There is more to productivity than just focusing on attention. In my coaching program, I cover more about the other elements of productivity such as Energy, Time and Communication.

I have an exclusive coaching program for Millennial employees called "Millennial Leaders" where I teach you how to be more productive and grow in your organisation.

Since I've launched this program recently, I am giving away free 15-minute strategy sessions for Millennials.  Usually, I charge $100 for such a consultation. But this is free a limited time. During the call, I will help you find your #1 reason why you are not as productive as you should be and give you an action plan. 

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