Newsletter: How to Say NO

October 15, 2014

Saying no is a critical business skill. But an effort to avoid uncomfortable moments or disappointing others can lead us to say yes to too many things. This calls for a plan, so today we bring you Shari Harley to share ways to say no and still sound like a responsible, easy-to-work-with, accommodating professional. 


Four Steps When You Get a Request


  1. Thank the person for asking. “Thank you for asking me.”  Saying “thank you” acknowledges the other person and buys you time to think about the request.
  2. Say you need some time to think about the request. Ask, “Can I have some time to think about it? I’ll get back to you by Friday.” You don’t need to reply in the moment. We often regret things we agree to without thinking through the request.
  3. Consider what you really want and are willing to do. It’s much worse to over-commit and under-deliver than to simply say no or renegotiate requests.
  4. Get back to the person in a timely way (when you said you would) and tell him or her what you’re willing to do.




Three Techniques to Say NO


How to Say No Option One: Simply say no.

Example: “I really appreciate you asking me to write the proposal for the RFP. I’m not able to do that. May I recommend someone else who has the expertise and will do a great job?” Don’t give a bunch of reasons for saying no. People are not interested in why we can or can’t do something. They just want to know if we will do it.


How to Say No Option Two: Agree — and negotiate the time frame.

Example: “I’d be happy to do that. I can’t do it before the last week of the month. Would that work for you?” If the answer is no, negotiate further. Ask, “When do you really need it? I can certainly do pieces by then, but not the whole thing. Given that I can’t meet your timeline, who else can work on this in tandem or instead of me?”


How to Say No Option Three: Say no to the request — and say what you can do.

Example: “I can’t do ___. But I can do ___. How would that work?”


A review of how to say no:

  1. Acknowledge the request by getting back to the requestor within 24 hours. 
  2. Give yourself time to think about and respond to requests.
  3. Negotiate requests to your and the requestor’s satisfaction.
  4. Agree on what you can and are willing to do.
  5. Keep your commitments.


Saying no is always hard. But it’s always better to say no than to ignore requests, or to say yes and do nothing.


Shari Harley is a corporate communications expert and author of How to Say Anything to Anyone.


Newsletter: When we make things too complicated…

September 3, 2014

Joe Calloway points out…

When we make things too complicated.

One of my clients, the CEO of an international agriculture business, said, “The price we pay for making things too complicated is immeasurable. It slows us down, makes for bad decisions, and scatters our efforts.”

Think about those three parts of the “price we pay” for making things too complicated:

1) Making things too complicated slows us down.

In today’s world if we don’t move quickly opportunities disappear in the blink of an eye. The inability to focus and simplify means we will overthink our decisions, going back and forth with pros and cons and new considerations that we continue to add to the pile. Simplicity and focus enable us to make decisions more quickly. That’s a competitive advantage.

2) Making things too complicated makes for bad decisions.

In your experience, which solutions are the most effective? Which ideas are most likely to create success? The complicated ones? Or the simple ones? I ask that question of my audiences and the answer is unanimous. Everyone agrees simple solutions and ideas are always the best. When we make it complicated we

increase the likelihood of failure. As we simplify we increase the likelihood of success.

3) Making things too complicated scatters our efforts.

This is a very steep price that can make the most ambitious and wonderful of dreams and aspirations come to absolutely nothing. Because we lacked focus and made it all too complicated, our efforts were watered down and weakened in their effect.

As the great inventor Alexander Graham Bell said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

Simplify your life.

Joe Calloway is a Hall of Fame Speaker and author of Be the Best at What Matters Most: The Only Strategy You will Ever Need

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