September 2/9, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 6
By Lisbeth Calandrino
We’ve all felt like a pushover at some point in our lives. We let someone talk us into something that wasn’t for our own good. In fact, we knew we shouldn’t have done it, but we did it anyway.
Whether you’re interacting with a customer, negotiating with a vendor, managing an employee or making your case to a business partner, you need to learn how to put your foot down without stepping on someone else’s toes. Here are some useful points to remember when it’s time to say no:
Think about what saying “yes” really means. Have you ever quickly said yes and then realized, “Why did I say that?” If you had taken the time to slow down and think about what saying yes meant, you may not have said it. One of the keys is to take time to reply. Instead of quickly agreeing to something, have a canned phrase that will give you time to think.
Here’s an example: Two years ago, I managed to get a self-inflicted head injury two days in a row. After my second trip to the emergency room the doctor asked if I thought I was a clumsy person. You know this is a terrible thing to say to a gym rat, but I realized how stupid I must have looked. Before answering, I took a deep breath and said, “I’ll take it under consideration.”
Practice saying “no.” You might ask yourself, “Do I feel just as good saying ‘no’ as I do when I say ‘yes?’” You might practice with some small nos. Instead of saying yes, give it a no and see how it feels. Instead of agreeing to go to that same-old restaurant, say no and try something else. When you say no to the things that don’t help you, you are, in effect, saying yes to the things that will.
Prioritize accordingly. I’ve heard people say, “I’ll fix it later; it can wait.” Did you ever think, “It’s not that big a deal; I should not worry about it.” Don’t get me wrong: I’m not implying that everything should be a heartache, but some things are worth paying attention to—especially when it involves your commitment to others.
Stop being a people pleaser. It’s all about figuring out the right way to say no for the right situations. Another way is to change the words you use to say no. For instance, you can say “I cannot allow that…” or “I cannot agree to those terms.”
Be firm but compassionate. Self-compassion, a construct drawn from Buddhist psychology, refers to a way of relating to the self—with kindness. It is not to be confused with arrogance or conceit, which usually indicates a lack of self-love. We often confuse our bad acts with being a bad person. Research has consistently shown a positive correlation between self- compassion and psychological well-being. The minute we lose our self-compassion and love for ourselves, the more we begin to question our own worth. Once we do this, we find ourselves in a state of depression and a place that is hard to rebound from.
Scott Fetters, a marketing consultant who works with startups and Fortune 500 companies alike, writes: “People will eventually respect you for disagreeing with them. Saying no is not the equivalent of flipping a giant middle finger. It’s quite the opposite—it shows you have a vision, a plan and an opinion. By clearly articulating your needs, challenges or deadlines (in advance, if possible) you begin to eliminate distractions. In turn, you stop feeling inclined to people please because you have defined a game plan.”
Words of wisdom.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.