I am a shy guy and generally find it difficult to say NO. Not because I can’t, but because I find it ‘easy’ to say YES’.
But then, over the last few years of building NextBigWhat (earlier Pluggd.in), I have learnt a lot of lessons and while I can write 2000 word post on those lessons, let me start with a simple one on how I developed a ‘thick skin’ to say NO.
#1 : Whom are you saying NO to? Person or..?
I always found it difficult to say NO to the person who came up with a request. But actually, it was the context/the request which I wanted to say NO to.
So explain to the person why you want to say NO to their request (this time).
How do I try to make it work? Well, I share my explanation. For instance, we (as NextBigWhat) say NO to a lot of event organizations (for partnerships) and we tell them ‘why’ (We often ask them if they’d do the same event with same zeal, if they had NO sponsor.). We also say NO to some advertisers/sponsors and tell them why (mostly, answers are found in our 10 commandments).
#2: The cost of saying YES.
I have had seriously bad experience by saying Yes in situations where I said it for no other reason but to avoid saying NO. Yes to a wrong hire, Yes to wrong partners and more.
When I look back, I ask myself – Was I better off saying NO before it all started?
The cost of saying YES is extremely high and while you find YES an easy reply, always look at the cost of saying Yes.
It will help you save a few sleepless nights. In fact, the worst situation is when you say YES and do not want to execute that. Think of all the negative commotion that goes after a simple YES and you will realize that saying NO was a much better option.
#3: Own the consequencesWhen you say NO, make sure that you own the consequences of saying NO. You might NOT be invited for a few parties, you might get a ‘bad name’, you might create wrong perception about yourself – but whatever it is, own the consequence.
Do NOT crib about it.
Similarly, when you say YES – own the consequences.
Do NOT crib about it!
#4: Pass on the responsibility of saying NO to somebody else
I know of few great founders who often follow the ‘good cop, bad cop’ principle by hiring people who are extremely ‘difficult to negotiate with’.
This is OKAY to do if you are a good cop (or atleast want to be seen as a good cop). If you can’t say NO to people, then create a system which will make you look helpless 🙂
Some of the smartest founders have done this.
#5: Not saying NO or Yes
The most difficult situation is when you don’t want to say yes and you aren’t comfortable saying NO.
Well, decision delay costs relationship. So take one side and rest in peace!
Got it? NO?