In a recent post, “Manage Work Interruptions Without Being The Bad Guy” which you can find here, one reader commented, “I like this. I’m in advertising and the most impromptu stuff is crisis management. Someone always has a crisis they want you to attend to and your work suffers. This gives a good solution to those challenges.”
Yes, the daily crisis is part of every manager’s day. However, there are some things that managers can do to keep many of these crisis at bay and off of their already congested daily to do list. That is, start using the word, “No” more often. Not in a self-righteous, “It’s my way or the highway” approach but more in a way that enables you to set healthy boundaries with the people around you that protects your most valuable asset; your time.
For example, have you ever said “Yes” when you’re better off saying “No?” Have you made promises you can’t keep or struggle to honor? Do you have a hard time telling the customer the truth about how long a project may actually take or cost? Do you withhold information from your customers that you know they want or need to hear in fear of a confrontation or losing a sale? Do you believe you need to please people for them to like you? Is your schedule frequently overbooked? If so, you may be a “Yesaholic.”
When you instinctually say “Yes” first without thinking whether you can realistically deliver on that timeline or expectation, you always have the best intentions in mind. You believe you can “Do it all.” Yet, think about what happens when you promise to deliver on something (completing a project, meeting with a customer) and you’re not able to honor that promise? How does that make you and the other person feel?
Saying “No” is often perceived as a bad thing. After all, you don’t want to say “No” and fear letting someone down, looking bad or losing a sale. The irony is, if you inevitably say “Yes” all the time to keep everyone happy and don’t follow through with your commitments, you wind up creating what you wanted to avoid from the start. That is, letting others down and creating stressful situations that cost time, money and problems by continually over committing and not delivering!
Being honest and honoring your boundaries (saying “No”) is a very attractive trait. You’ll find that more people will hire you, since people respect those who have strong boundaries.
The next time someone asks you to do something (including promises you make to yourself), give yourself the time to process their request. Use the following two sentences to create some space for yourself before responding in a reactionary way that your sure to regret later on. Moreover, these two questions put the power of choice back in your court especially when you feel someone is putting you on the spot for an immediate answer that you may not have or feel you need additional time to respond thoughtfully.
- “Let me check my schedule and I will get back to you.”
- “Thanks for the opportunity. I will consider it and respond shortly.”
Tip From The Sales Coach: Did you know that when someone makes a request or asks you for something you don’t need to respond immediately?
Then, ask yourself these five important questions before you respond.
1. “Is this something I really want to be doing?”
2. “Is this something I have to do?” (It supports my goals, responsibilities, lifestyle, priorities, etc.)
3. “Can I meet this person’s expectations?”
4. “Do I really have time for this?” (Are there other activities you have committed to that take priority?)
5. “What is a reasonable deadline/expectation I can commit to in the absolute worst case scenario?” (If you plan for the worst, you wind up building buffers into your schedule that would enable you to handle unforeseen problems while still honoring your commitments. The result? You’ll look like a hero!)
After practicing this a few times you’ll quickly see the benefits, since your life will became easier and more simplified once you eliminate the problems that result from over committing. Remember, either you run your life or other people and circumstances are.