Many of you have learned the hard way that saying “yes” doesn’t always work. When you overcommit, it can come back to hurt your career, business growth, and customer relationships. There can be consequences and the most important is you break “trust.”
There are times it’s better to say, “no.” Yet, saying “no” can feel uncomfortable, especially for people-pleasers and those wanting to be well-liked.
If you say “yes” and are unable or unwilling to honor your commitment, trust is broken. It can become a career derailer when your team, boss, board, and/or customers stop trusting you.
As always, be selective and wisely choose when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”
How to Say “No” and Build Trust
When You Are Asked for Help. As a leader or entrepreneur, it’s your job to guide your team members. If you say “yes” and don’t follow-through, you lose trust. If you say “no,” you can instead recommend who or how they can get their questions answered by someone who is better qualified.
Don’t Offer Excuses. When you say “no,” it does not require an explanation. Offering excuses for the “no” is where many leaders (and others) get themselves in trouble. Instead, plan to negotiate requests that are important to create a win-win-win outcome.
For example, Sabrina was asked to work on a company-wide project for her boss. Because she didn’t have time she said “no.” Instead, she negotiated with her boss to do her part of the project remotely and attend monthly updates instead of weekly update meetings.
When Invited to an Event or Provide a Financial Contribution. Be clear about your values (e.g., family, career, education, religion, etc.). It makes it easier to say “yes” or “no” to these types of requests. When you need to say “no,” here are some effective ways:
- “No, thank you. I’d love to, but I’m unable to do so right now.”
- “Thank you for asking and “no” I’m not able to do so.”
- “Thank you for asking, but that doesn’t work for me right now.”
When You Don’t Have the Time or Interest. When you say “no,” include “That’s a great idea! But I don’t have the time or energy to add one more thing to my schedule. Good luck!”
When You Do Say “Yes.” Honor your “yes” by completing your commitment as promised and make sure to over-deliver. When you can say “yes” and you can say “no’s” to future requests, you will build trust with others.
©Jeannette Seibly 2020
Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. She has been an award-winning executive coach and keynote speaker for 28 years. She is an expert in guiding leaders and their teams to get unstuck and achieve dynamic results. Contact Jeannette for a confidential conversation.
A Note About “Saying No” from Jeannette. Saying “yes” can be too easy for many people. Yet, there are consequences when you don’t fulfill the promise you made with your “yes.” Learn how to say “no” diplomatically. That actually will help your career or business. Hire a coach to talk you through the pros and cons of “yes” and “no.”