Learn to say “no”


“I’m also proud of things we did not do,” said Steve Jobs. As we know, saying “yes” to everything leads nowhere … so why not refuse what is complicated for us or repels us? Are we afraid of rejection? Do we apprehend the reaction of the one to whom this answer is intended?

In fact, the fear of displeasing is rooted in us since childhood and its roots are sprawling. We suffer from a lack of attention and therefore we want to please at all costs. Your mother was constantly depressed, you felt responsible for her condition, and now you have a tendency to acquiesce to any request?

But in the long run, engorgement occurs. The requests of others take all the place, and prevent to arrange a time for oneself. That’s when a three-letter word becomes a sentence. No. By using it judiciously, and sometimes several times in a day, it is accompanied by a feeling of anger. You then realize the time you lost with futile tasks.

Sense of priorities

As Chloe Brotheridge points out , we have to see that constantly saying “yes” is a form of manipulation, the goal of which is to be loved at all costs. Which obviously does not work for two reasons:

  • The desired effect rarely occurs.
  • Performing a task that we do not want to do makes us hate the person who asks us and frustrates us because it deprives us of time that would have been better spent doing something else.

However, as soon as one gets used to saying no, a new difficulty appears. We are forced to face what we really want. Does what I am asked for match me? When it comes to unimportant queries, the questioning remains superficial but deeper questions arise when it comes to important decisions, real life choices.

When we are asked something, it is possible that we are caught off guard. What to do then? Why not propose to the person to formulate his request in writing, in the form of an email for example? That can give you time to think about it and answer it.

Clear language

As a former executive of a large publishing house, Michael Hyatt, the author of Free to Focus , often receives requests to read manuscripts or meet people who need advice. Of course, he does not have time to access all these requests. He has prepared a model letter in which he refuses by encouraging the authors to continue their writing work. It only remains for him to customize the first paragraph.

“The important thing,” he says, “is not to create a wait by leaving the person in uncertainty. It is better a positive “no”, well formulated, it allows the person to organize differently. ”

To know when to say “no” or “yes”, however, we must know what matters to us, what we do not want and what we want to accomplish.

This is the first step Michael Hyatt advises. Let’s be clear with our vision of productivity. Once we know what we want, it will be easier to assess our skills and responsibilities in the light of what we (really) have to do ourselves and what would be better done by others, or by a robot.

This exercise will then help us to make a list of things not to do rather than a list of things to do.

Free time

The time released should give us time to sleep, think, create, share and have more fun. If we take the opportunity to do tasks that cost us, it will not help much.

In his book, Free to Focus , Michael Hyatt recalls the innovation of Henry Ford who was the first to reduce the work week to 40 hours! This caused an incredible enthusiasm among employees who had only Sunday to rest with their family. Their biggest surprise was that despite fewer hours worked, productivity has exploded.

Rested, we work better, we think better.

Even today, in most countries, the 40-hour (or even 35-hour) week model is still in effect, except that … knowledge workers, all with smartphones, remain accessible at all times. almost. For them, the number of working hours is on the rise!

It is not uncommon for these people to read their emails every day, including weekends, before or after their work day to avoid clutter during office hours. It is increasingly difficult to make real breaks.

But without breaks, especially in a world of distractions like ours, it becomes difficult to concentrate.

Beliefs to dispel

Productivity methods that help to achieve more quickly are not necessarily what will improve our lives. The winning strategy is to accomplish what matters. Freeing yourself of time makes sense if it allows you to accomplish these essential things and recharge your batteries.

We sometimes think that it is impossible to do otherwise and that choices are not in our hands. But these beliefs are our biggest brakes. We do not take the time to put everything back on the pretext that we do not have enough time to do it, but this is a chasm. We imagine not being sufficiently disciplined, but with good habits in place it can be done more easily than we think.

For a part of our time, we can all be in control. This implies, however, that we are clear with our desires and the skills to be exploited to redirect the unsuitable tasks.

I suggest you follow Michael Hyatt’s advice, make a list of things you can not do, eliminate unnecessary tasks or redirect them by delegating them.

This will allow you to focus on the essential tasks and recover free time to recharge your batteries in order to give the best of yourself when it comes time to get back to work.

And, you have understood, the sine qua non is to refuse all requests that are not compatible with your goals or your vision … otherwise it is the others who will control your agenda.

The exercise that I propose to you this week: to learn to say no with elegance, it is HERE .

Author Bio: Sylvie Gendreau is aLecturer in Creativity and Innovation at Polytechnique Montréal