Saying “No” can make us free. It frees us from doing the things that drain the soul out of our bodies, the things that we will regret we did.
In business, it can free us from doing things that cost us money, or that don’t make us money, or the things that we are not particularly good at doing, and more importantly, from doing the things that are not in the bucket of those that we want to be known for. Saying no frees us from losing our focus.
This is a way of showing leadership by choice.
But when you are in a services job, in customer support, or just in any function that deals with customers, it is important to learn to say “No” in a way that won’t hurt any feelings, and in a way that doesn’t come through as unwilling to help or plainly a jerk.
I call this the “compassionate no”, and it goes sort of like this: “I am sorry, I would really like to please you, but I cannot do that because it will be bad in the long run”. The first two pieces are fundamental. I don’t know about you, but I always feel bad a little when someone asks me for something that I cannot do, honestly. Then, the reason for that is because I want to please. This is important that comes through sincerely. You feel bad, and you really want to help.
Then comes the last piece. BUT, it is something that will hurt us in the long run. It can be something as simple that it would make us lose focus and time, or that by doing so repeatedly, it would drive us out of business, and “we don’t want to do that, Right?”
Practice it. Be nice, be compassionate. But you don’t have to say “yes”.