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NO - How to use ultimate productivity word in 5 ways to achieve long term success

"Focusing is about saying NO." - Steve Jobs


Simply because I was unable to say "NO," I squandered 1000 hours of time. Not until I discovered these 5 crucial hints.

We have good reasons to fear saying no. We worry we’ll miss out on a great opportunity. We’re scared of rocking the boat, stirring things up, burning bridges. We can’t bear the thought of disappointing someone we respect and like. None of this makes us bad people. It’s a natural part of being human. Yet as hard as it can be to say no to someone, failing to do so can cause us to miss out on something far more important.

So how do we develop the skill of saying no politely? The following general guidelines are followed by a variety of specific scripts for saying "no" politely.

1. Separate the decision from the relationship

When people ask us to do something, we can confuse the request with our relationship with them. Sometimes they seem so interconnected, we forget that denying the request is not the same as denying the person. Only once we separate the decision from the relationship can we make a clear decision and then separately find the courage and compassion to communicate it.

2. Focus on the trade-off

The more we consider what we are giving up when we say yes, the simpler it is to say no. If we don't have a clear sense of the opportunity cost — the worth of what we're giving up — it's all too easy to fall into the nonessential trap of persuading ourselves we can get it all done. We cannot. Out of a clear but unspoken evaluation of the trade-off, a beautiful "no" develops.

3. Remind yourself that everyone is selling something

This doesn’t mean you have to be cynical about people. I don’t mean to imply people shouldn’t be trusted. I am simply saying everyone is selling something — an idea, a viewpoint, an opinion — in exchange for your time. Simply being aware of what is being sold allows us to be more deliberate in deciding whether we want to buy it.

4. Make your peace with the fact that saying “No” often requires trading popularity for respect

There is typically a short-term effect on the relationship when you say no. After all, a person's initial reaction to asking for something and not receiving it could be dissatisfaction, disappointment, or even anger. This drawback is obvious. However, the possible benefit is less obvious: as the immediate dissatisfaction, disappointment, or anger subsides, respect sets in. Effective response demonstrates to others how much we value their time. It sets the professional apart from the novice.

5. Saying “No” gracefully doesn’t have to mean using the word NO

Essentialists choose “no” more often than they say no. There may be a time when the most graceful way to say no is to simply say a blunt no. But whether it’s “I am flattered that you thought of me but I’m afraid I don’t have the bandwidth” or “I would very much like to, but I’m overcommitted,” there are a variety of ways of refusing someone clearly and politely without actually using the word no.

Case from History

A perfect example is the moment Paul Rand, a graphic artist, had the guts to refuse Steve Jobs' request. When Jobs was looking for a logo for the company NeXT, he asked Rand, whose work included the logos for IBM, UPS, Enron, Westinghouse, and ABC, to come up with a few options. But Rand didn’t want to come up with “a few options.” He wanted to design just one option. So, Rand said: “No. I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution. If you want options, go talk to other people. But I will solve the problem the best way I know-how. And you use it or not. That’s up to you.” Not surprisingly, Rand solved the problem and created the “jewel” logo Jobs wanted, but the real lesson here is the effect Rand’s “push back” had on Jobs, who later said of Rand, “He is one of the most professional people I have ever worked with: in the sense that he had thought through all of the formal relationships between a client and a professional such as himself.” Rand took a risk when he said no. He bet a short-term popularity loss for a long-term gain in respect. And it paid off.

“Innovation comes from saying no to 1,000 things a week to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much... It's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” - Steve Jobs

“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.” - Paulo Coelho

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