Saying "Yes" Deliberately and Effectively!

Thanks to our guest blogger today Michael Bungay Stanier of Box of Crayons.

"At the heart of doing more Great Work are the choices you make. Not just what you are saying Yes to. But – and this follows your Yes just as the back of the hand follows the front – what you are also saying No to.

That sounds simple enough, but you know it’s not.

Sure, it’s easy to say a knee-jerk Yes to whatever comes along. We all do that. It’s much harder to be mindful and thoughtful and clear and bold and courageous as to what you really want to say Yes to.

And for most of us, it’s a nightmare to say No.

How to say No when you can’t say No

There are some people in your life to whom it’s fairly easy to say a clear No.

There are some people in your life to whom it’s fairly easy to say a clear "No."

Category One: People you have a really close relationship with. Spouse, kids, best friends. You’ve got a solid enough relationship that No is going to be OK.

Category Two: People you have absolutely no relationship with. Telemarketers come to mind. “Hello, I’m from Hardsell Credit Card Company, can I …” .

It’s everyone in the middle – and it’s a big group – that’s the challenge. For instance, it includes most everyone you work with.

So stop thinking about saying No.

Think about how to say Yes More Slowly.

Because that’s what’s really killing you. It’s not saying Yes. It’s saying Yes quickly.

Saying Yes More Slowly

Here’s how it goes:

Someone asks you to do something.

And, while nodding your head, you say “Sure – and let me just ask you a few questions first.”

And then you pick and chose from some of these questions. (Your goal is to ask at least three of these.)
  • Why are you asking me?
  • Who else have you asked?
  • When you say this is urgent, what do you mean?
  • If I could only do part of this, what part would it be?
  • What part of this is something that only I could do?
  • What standard do you expect this to be done to?
  • Is this more urgent than X, Y and Z that are currently on my list?
  • Have you checked with [name] about me taking this on?
  • How does this contribute to [Great Work Project]?
You get the gist I’m sure. And I’ve no doubt that you can add some questions of your own.

When you start saying Yes More Slowly, one of four things happen.

First, the person will answer all your questions and make a very good case for your to say Yes. Which is fine – you’re saying Yes for all the right reasons.

Second, they’ll tell you to stop with the questions and get on with it. (Sadly, this isn’t a ‘silver bullet’ that will work all the time.)

Third, they’ll go away and find the answers to your questions – which at the very least will buy you some time.

And finally – and this is a good result – they’ll go and find someone else who’s less trouble, someone who hasn’t mastered the art of saying Yes Slowly."

Mike Kennedy,
Helping you find your clarity, in the hot pursuit of your meaningful and inspiring goals! email me and share what's important for you!
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