Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Say NO now (ask me how)

In the series of learning useful skills, this time, lets talk about saying


But first...


Image result for why

It all started when (the fictional) me met Tai (pseudo-name) in a (fictional) cafeteria a few days back...
She (allegedly) seemed really stressed, and said she stays evenings at work, since she is 120% charged...

The conversation might have gone something like this...

Q: Why are you so charged?
A: I under-estimated my charge, and said yes to 100% capacity... since I don't like not being useful...
But now I am 120% charged... 

Q: Since you stay late, do you manage to deliver the 120% you committed to?
A: Not really, it is too much for me... the overload burns me out.

Q: Imagine you were just 70% charged now, and had 30% time with no obligations, would you be able to actually deliver more than now or not?
A: (after a deep moment of thought) - actually yes! and in a calm way.

Q: So in fact, if you would say NO to the remaining 50% (120-70), you'd be able to make more people happy!!, right?
A: Yup.

Q: And you'd get to go home early! right?
A: Yup

Q: So why not insist on 70% capacity?
In fact, this will make: 
- The 70% more happy - they can rely on the yes they got.
- The 50% less frustrated - they receive no early and not on the (over-)due date.
- One happy (fictional) Tai leaving early and not stressed!

< A more serious explanation >
When we over-commit, we try to deliver beyond our capacity, hence we will probably 
- The easy stuff (which is not necessarily the important one)
- Half-baked output (since we don't have time for quality)
- A random selection: we know (though we can't admit it) not all will be delivered, and finally some people will receive a bad surprize at the last minute, by either
    - Getting on time not what they expected.
    - Not getting on time what they expected (getting it with an unpredictable delay)
    - Not getting anything, without a notice.

A much better approach is to promise less and be reliable... isn't it?
< end-of the more serious explanation >

So if we could say no, we would contribute to world happiness!


By now, I hope you are convinced it is an important skill... 

- There is only one question remaining...

- So I did some personal research...

My first instinct would be to 

- Then I remembered my inclination to get fired, which is correlated with this response... 
So I started some deep research (TED videos, articles, and a great lecture in Agile-Tour Bangkok this year!)

To sum up my findings,

Here are my tips...

 (feel free to add yours in comments!)

1. ⏱ Wait before yes

When you feel a yes is cooking, delay the answer...

If you feel the urge to say yes, breath deeply, and think if the answer is urgent...
- Will there be any harm to give it after some reflection?

- Try saying: I have to check if I have time to do this, I'll let you know later today. (did it work?)

2. 🔍 Demand details

Such as:
- What are the deadlines? Are they hard or soft ones? 
- Why are you of all people being asked? did someone else already said no?
And most important - what is the expected impact? 
     Meaning - what will it change in the life of someone if this is done?

Once you understand the impact it leads to the third stage...

3🔨Think (and propose) simplification

Now, that you understand the expected impact, think simplicity...
- Is there a simpler way to make the same impact? 
- Does it need to be an excel, or is a paper & pen calculation enough?
- Do you need the full calculation of just the result? 
- Do you need the exact figure, or just the estimation?
- Or perhaps just a Go/No-Go answer?

Note: This step is super crucial, since it saves the world energy!
- The total amount of work done (by the whole organization) may be significantly reduced!! (see here)

4. 🚓(In case you are over 70% capacity) say NO clearly!

and with no big apologies!

In case you decide to say no, don't be defensive, it is is your right! something like:
- I'm really sorry, but I can't do it now, since I am booked. 

Don't over apologize! (just like a car doesn't apologize it is out of gas)

- In case you need to, explain in a calm tone that if you take more work now, experience shows I will actually deliver less! 

- show this post as proof, if needed!! :)

In case you apologize, you are just risking wasting the time you try to save! you are inviting a someone to walk together on a guilt-trip...

Note: Silence is not a clear no, it will still sit as an open issue in your mind and the mind of the requester! clear communication is essential!!

5.  Offer alternatives: 

Try saying out-loud one of the following:
- Sorry, could you come back in a few days, perhaps I'll have the time.
- Perhaps ask <someone else>, maybe they are less charged....
or even... (advanced level) 
- I don't have the time, but it is quite simple, let me show you how to do it yourself!
- I have other stuff to do, but if you take one of my tasks (or make it go away), I'll gladly do it!

Be creative!
Think solution and impact!!
And don't be over polite!!!

...for now

A final note (or two):

- You may be thinking this is a radical approach, but in order to learn a new skill (and unfortunately saying no is a rare skill) one is sometimes required for rigorous training...

- Remember that you are doing this out of altruistic egoism, to protect yourself and the world from waste and overload.

Oh, and just one last thing:
- If you ever get fired for saying no:

1. It was probably a horrible workplace anyway.

2. Don't blame me! ,I'm just your silly old bear... ;)

Enjoy life!

- The bear.


1 comment:

  1. I felt this post very energetic! And simply true.
    We had some debates over this topic at our company and the word that comes up often is delegate!
    It is so over-used that people got mad instantly or start to joke about this as soon as they hear the word.
    We had a communication training and the trainer just needed not to mention the word to go further.
    This was an example of how to say no in a non-sustainable way.
    I think saying no makes you more responsible also on how you take care of yourself. This is not only about the job. Also, saying no and making someone mad is not a bad thing necessary.
    Sometimes will also reveal something very important: people that you think of as friends and they only see you as a carrying horse.
    For me another thing that I struggled with is the guilt that I have time and still say no, this is normal because we need time to let things happen to us that challenge us and we learn to move forward.
    This are my 2 cents.