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The Importance of Displeasing People and Saying No

By Wayne Elsey

 

Recently, I was sitting around with my team, and we were talking about the stories of candidates who wanted to work at our social enterprise. We had a terrific chuckle around the table as we told stories about the people who really should know better.

Distance is a Problem

For instance, I had a person that interviewed directly with me. I mentioned to this person, who had an impressive resume that the drive to the office was 45 minutes each way, and that was on a good day. “No worries,” this person replied and then went on to tell me how much she wanted to be part of my innovative team of professionals.

We spoke for a long time and were moving forward in the process, and then one day, my vice president for administration got an email (they never call personally, do they?) and informed her that, in fact, the distance was a problem.

Too Complicated

A friend and colleague of mine was in discussions with her old tax attorneys, and the advisors informed her that they would be able to handle her complicated returns, which is international. All they needed was one extra month of time so they could deal with tax season, since the couple would be filing an extension.

Not too long ago, on a Saturday night no less, the couple received a call from the tax attorneys. It was two months after agreeing to begin on their returns to tell them that “on second thought” the filings were so complicated and they would have to verse themselves in international tax treaties, and they decided to decline. That resulted in frustration, a lot of scrambling, and expedited returns cost them more money.

Please, Say No

I’m sure you have had situations where someone tells you it’s a yes before it’s a no. Maybe it’s going out to dinner with friends, only to have your friend call you at the last minute to tell you that “something came up.” Maybe it’s your spouse who keeps on saying to you that they’ll think about something that you want to do, only to never give you a reply. Or, maybe it’s your boss who keeps suggesting there’s a promotion down the line (soon) if you work harder and the goal post just keeps on moving.

Can we all put an end to the madness and summon the courage to say that whatever it is doesn’t work? Wouldn’t you rather know something on the front-end, peel the bandage off so to speak, and move on with your life? In fact, the most successful people in business will tell you that they say no, often. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and others. For yourself, it conserves your energy and helps you keep focused on the activities that really matter to you. For others, you’re doing them a favor and saving them the aggravation of a more significant disappointment down the line.

Practice Saying No

Many people are fighters on social media with their big and bad attitudes, but when you speak to them in person, they’re people pleasers. No one is telling you to be rude or nasty with people, but practice the art of saying no. If when you look in the mirror, you’re one of the people that has a tough time saying no to anyone, make it a point to practice it. You’ll be doing yourself and everyone in your life a favor. Sure, you might end up with some initial resistance, and disappointment, but with time, you’re going to see that people appreciate your genuine attitude.

The reality is that people would prefer to know the honest truth, politely, then have you say yes to them only to waste their time and then tell them that you’ve changed your mind. Think about that the next time you’re inclined to tell someone what they want to hear instead of what you feel, which is that deep down–you don’t want to do it.

Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download available at http://notyourfatherscharity.com/free-resources/ )

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