My Chair’s Corner this month will discuss how to say “No” by saying “Yes”. This is a tactic that can be used frequently in your professional life, especially if you’re in a position with constant interruptions.
You’re working at your workstation, in the zone, and people keep coming up to you throughout the day.
“Hey, can you help me with this?”
“Could you do that for me?”
“Hi, can you get me those numbers?
At this point, you’re interrupted, distracted, and you proceed to help them out because that’s our job—you don’t want to say ‘no’–especially if you’re in a leadership position.
Here’s how you say “No” by saying “Yes”—try example #2 out for size and see how this plays out differently:
Same situation, you’re at your workspace, and in walks a co-worker.
Coworker: “Hey, can you get me those numbers?”
You: “Yes! I’m happy to get you those numbers. I’ll get them in about an hour, I’m going to finish what I’m working on here, and then I’ll definitely get those your way.”
Coworker: “Hey, can you help me? I’m having some trouble on my computer.”
You: “Totally! I’ll come over to your office in about 20 minutes and we’ll get that figured out.”
If you confirm what they are saying, make them feel listened to, and then timebox it on your schedule, you are less likely to get pushed and pulled in different directions. You get to set the rhythm based on YOUR schedule, not someone else’s sense of urgency. Typically, these kinds of interruptions can wait, and if they can’t, they’ll let you know. You’ll find the response tends more towards, “Awesome! See you in 20 minutes!” or “Perfecto, thanks for your work on those numbers!”
It’s important to set boundaries around your work and your TIME, and with this method, the people around you will feel validated. That’s how you say “No” by saying “Yes”. I encourage you to try it! It takes practice, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better for your efficiency and stress levels.
Want to discuss this and other topics more? Let’s grab virtual coffee: firstname.lastname@example.org