Why You Must Learn to Say NO.
There was a great book written by William Ury and Roger Fisher titled “Getting to Yes: Negotiating an Agreement without Giving In.” It’s one of those books that tends to find its way into business school classrooms and even boardrooms around the world. While its first edition was written way back in 1981, it’s stood the test of time, seeing several updates over the last three decades.
The book teaches professionals how to get what they want, whether it’s a raise, time off, a transfer, or more or less responsibility. The whole goal is, of course, to get to ‘yes.’ But, playing devil’s advocate for a moment, we have to consider something: what if it’s not that professionals are learning increasingly creative and persuasive ways to get to yes? What if, instead, those in the position to decide have an inability to say no?
The truth is, a great many executives, especially CEOs (believe it or not) have a problem saying no. Whether they’ll admit to it or not, it’s often easier to say yes than to hurt feelings, risk backlash, or forego an opportunity. But, always saying yes can also have dire consequences.
According to a recent article by First Round Review, it’s possible that as much as 70% of a CEOs time is misspent, and a significant factor is the inability to say no. It goes on to say that “[CEOs] know they should be using every hour to move their companies forward, create great products, close deals and hire the best candidates. Many just can’t find the time.” If you don’t have the time for these critical initiatives, it’s time for a change.
So, here are some tactics designed to help you ‘get to no’:
A wonderful way to look at the up-side of saying no is how Steve Jobs viewed it: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”