Working through all the feelings, I recorded this to capture some of the lessons I’m learning. Please forgive the meandering (my state of mind is not as incisive as usual) and the less-than stellar quality of the video… but I promise there are some important nuggets in here.
Mini training time! If you’re succeeding but overwhelmed and racing against the clock every day, you’re going to love this video. Set aside 10 minutes and get ready to take some notes on the 4 keys that will get you through the “messy middle” phase of business!
I’ll admit it: I have a troubled relationship with time.
I’m always searching for the perfect way to schedule my calendar. The perfect scheduling tool. The perfect reminder system.
This year I made three simple changes that cost me nothing and make a big difference in how I feel every single day.
- For as long as I can remember, I have hung a one-year dry-erase laminated calendar on the wall that I face while sitting at my desk. Time was literally looming over me. I was facing off with it every single day. So I moved 2024’s calendar behind my office door and filled the space I face with the things that are most important to me: family, pets and inspiration.
- Another long-time practice that I changed is I stopped wearing my Apple watch. Even though I have all the notifications turned off, it was a distraction. I could check the weather, my exercise rings… so many ways to waste a little bit of time here and there. I’ve swapped out the techy nagging device for a watch my Dad gave me one Christmas. It’s sentimental and low tech. Doesn’t even have the date on it.
- With this last one, I may be veering into the neighborhood of TMI, but an idea from my fab time management coach Lisa Crilley Mallis of Impactive Strategies, I go to the downstairs bathroom instead of the one right next to my office. A mini-break from my day.
I’ll wrap up with this thought: when you have a busy life and business, making huge sweeping changes is hard. And then maintaining them? Almost impossible.So while these 3 changes might seem too small to actually make a different, the power behind them is that they are sustainable.
Close on the heels of compiling 46 Ways to Say No, another option occurred to me. One that actually lets you elevate mediocre opportunities instead of saying no.
You’ll find this most helpful when wrestling with what I call “mixed blessing opportunities”.
For example: let’s say someone offers you the opportunity to speak for a group of your ideal clients (YAY!), but requests a topic that isn’t aligned with your core offerings and you don’t have an existing presentation created (BOO!).
If you say yes, you end up sacrificing your time to create a new presentation just so you can get in front of a great audience. But because you also sacrificed strategy by giving a talk that is off-topic and off-message, the likelihood that you’ll attract new clients is slim.
If you say no, there’s that pinch of regret for a missed opportunity.
So instead of saying YES and damn the consequences, or NO and completely miss out on the opportunity, here is a different way to handle these mixed blessings.
The first thing is to recognize that when someone gives you an opportunity, they are interested in you. Then it’s just a matter of exploring if there is a way to adjust that initial interest so it fully aligns with your business strategy.
To elevate a “meh” opportunity, include the following:
- Open with gratitude and a yes: this builds rapport and doesn’t dismiss the opportunity outright
- Ask permission to explore alternatives
- Make an alternative suggestion
- Elaborate a little on the benefits of this alternative
- Ask if this is something they’d be open to
Thank you so much for the invitation! I would love to present for and serve your group. May I make just one suggestion?
The topic you requested is not one I present on, but I have a talk called More Clients, Less Marketing that – from what I know about your members – would potentially be a great fit. It’s my most popular talk because it’s so interactive with solid tools and take-aways. For groups like yours it has a track record of attracting higher-than-normal attendance.
Would you be open to considering bringing me in to present this topic instead?
Obviously when you embrace this approach, you’ll navigate those “mixed blessing opportunities” more effectively and see better outcomes.
But there’s another benefit. And it’s a biggie.
You’ll start to become a stronger advocate for yourself in every situation.
And that could come in handy, don’t you think?
At the end of each year, I look ahead and strategize ways to make sure I don’t overload my calendar and spread myself too thin.
This year the answer came through loud and clear: say NO to substandard opportunities.
I ran this by a few of my peers and the response was a resounding, “Yesssssss… but how do I do that?”
Because the truth is, you need an arsenal of “no” responses to handle the wide variety of situations you encounter on a daily basis. So I compiled a list of suggestions (including unexpected but appreciated neurodivergent perspectives) from my online community in order to support you to say no to any substandard opportunities that come your way. I’ve left in duplicates for emphasis!
First, a Little Fun
1. Janet: 🤣
2. Diane: Write “no” across the top of your calendar for every day of the week. Tell the person asking you to do the favor “just a minute, I have to check my calendar”. Come back and say, “I’m sorry but my calendar says no.” 😂
3. Mary Sue: Unfortunately, I can’t take on any unpaid work to help you make money at this time. Thanks for thinking of me though.
Direct, Brief Responses
4. Tina: No. I use it just as it is.
5. Heather: No.
6. Kathy: NO
7. Lisa: No. 🤪🤪✊
8. Kimble: Nope.
9. Eric: Nope.
10. Gioia: It seems to me that “No” is simple and to the point. There is no need to say anything more.
11. Kelley: It’s in the delivery. Breathe so you’re grounded. And then let it come from your heart. And if you really want no objection, make it about how you feel. Nobody can argue with how you feel.
Work or Commitment Requests
12. That’s not a priority for me right now.
13. I’m not interested at this time.
14. That doesn’t work for me at the moment.
15. I’m not in a spot to say yes right now.
16. I’d love to help out where it makes sense, but this seems out of scope for me at the moment.
17. I don’t have the bandwidth to take on anything new right now.
18. I’m really prioritizing my mental health and wellbeing right now.
19. I’m downsizing my commitments for next year in order to have a more sustainable work-life balance.
20. I promised myself I’d say no to things that don’t light me up.
21. I recognize the need, but I don’t know that I’m the one to fill it.
22. Dave: As a busy and neurodivergent person, anything other than short and sweet gets intuitively processed as unclear or a “maybe.” Folks need to put effort in for me not to understand a clear no as anything but kind. I’m grateful for: No, Not now, Another time (I may try to set that up), A referral.
23. Heather: My son is autistic and has a particular flavor that doesn’t respond to no – and I think that opens up an entire other conversation too. His teachers every year would be like; “we will teach him” and mid-year they are like “ok, we concede, he doesn’t register no and cannot accept it” and I’m like yep- welcome to the party.
24. Brooke: I’m an ADHDer and I am so, so grateful when people speak plainly and directly. I simply do not understand indirect communication styles. So, yes, if you mean “no” please just say “no”.
Personal or Social Situations
25. Jim: Please don’t waste your time, this isn’t going to happen. (Persistent missionaries at the doorstep)
26. Amy: When my then boyfriend / now husband was moving too fast in our early days: “Let’s save that for later.” We still talk about that 😊
27. Melanie: I appreciate your ….. this phrasing also works instead of saying I’m sorry….. It turns it into asking them to understand rather than you apologizing.
28. Jamie: Since my toddler no longer hears NO… I say – that’s not an option right now. Might work on adults who also don’t hear the word no (aka parents or siblings).
No with Appreciation
29. Linda: Thank you for asking but my answer must be no.
30. Carolyn: “Thank you for understanding that I just don’t have the capacity to say yes (or room on my plate or my plate already runneth over, etc…).” Use ‘thank you’ instead of ‘I’m sorry’ when declining.
31. Shanna: Thank you but no. Good luck on your search.
32. Kathleen: “I cannot say yes, but thanks for asking.”
33. Andrea: I’m not comfortable with that right now. I’m sure you understand.
34. Lisa: Thank you for asking, I truly am flattered. However, I must decline. I don’t have the capacity at this time to do your request justice.
35. Lorie: Thank you for reaching out. I’m not able to help right now but I appreciate you thinking of me!
36. Cindy: Thanks for asking. I don’t think I’m the right fit for this right now. Might I suggest…. (someone else who could do the job).
37. Ashley: It sounds like an awesome opportunity but I’m overextended for the foreseeable future.
Kristen: I like to share that I have no capacity…
38. I do not have capacity for anything new and don’t foresee that changing anytime soon.
39. I appreciate you asking and I don’t have capacity for that.
40. I am already overwhelmed with so much going on, I am going to have to say no.
41. I am behind on other projects right now and I like to keep my commitments so I am not making any more.
42. I am going to have to say no to stay in integrity with myself.
43. Lelia: No…it works every time. No need for reasons why. You can always add, thank you for thinking of me
44. Claire: I hear you and thank you, but the answer has to be no
45. Cindy: Thank you for asking but I must decline.
46. Jim: A lot of responses from nice people that probably don’t have a lot of sales experience. The persistent salesperson has heard it all. Too many words just have them waiting to pounce. You need to punch them squarely in the nose. Nicely. ‘Not happening’ No rationalization or justification. Blam. Give them no hope you might engage. They will appreciate it and move on. You’re being nice.
Raise your hand if you have a creative streak. Or crave variety. Or love adventure and new experiences.
Most business owners have their hand up right now, because we all know how creative you have to be to run a business.
But at the same time, all that creativity can create chaos if isn’t channeled and focused on doing the RIGHT jobs in your business. Check out some examples in this 3 minute video, then let me know your experiences!