Go ahead, say NO for a change…



In a Time Management course that I facilitated recently , I had asked the trainees to list the biggest road blocks that stood between them and the timely completion of their worthy goals. There were a couple of hot favorites. But the Numero Uno spot went to “The frustrating need to accommodate requests and errands of others” . And when I enquired about the root cause of this item that got the top slot, they unanimously chimed – “Our inability to say NO”. So in this post, let me share with my favorite readers, the secret of saying NO to this inability.

First of all, you don’t have to say No if you don’t want to. Even if the accommodation of that last minute, highly resource draining, outrageous request can make your own projects overshoot their runways, say YES emphatically, if this affirmative can grant you worthier outcomes in the long run. But be 100% sure. Don’t let an inherent streak of submissiveness convince you that the mirage is real. And when I say “long run” , it could be in here or in the hereafter. “I don’t have to do that….and I know that he will not reciprocate. But I do it for the bounty from my lord”, is a perfectly valid argument.

But what if the driving force behind your “YES” is fear? Then you have a problem. You teach the world how to deal with you and akin to the case of wringing water out of a towel, people will keep wringing till the towel stops dripping. So ask yourselves the question from the classic “Who moved my cheese”- What would you do, if you didn’t have fear ?.

If you want to say NO, do so. When you say No to others, you are saying YES to yourself and all your unfinished dreams screaming for attention in the dusty attics of your life.

And here is the technique to do it- SURDNO (sounds like a karate chop, doesn’t it ?)

S stands for YES (Don’t look at me like that… I mean it. To say no to someone, you have to start with an emphatic YES combined with a million dollar smile and a body physiology exuding hospitality and acceptance)

U stands for conveying your understanding. After the disarming “YES”, you go on to explain the rationale behind his request. Go on…. Don’t be stingy here. Say it from his perspective. Sneak into his shoes and give every justification for his request.

As he will look at you with a dazed look, expecting you to start working on his project right away, change tactics.

R stands for showing your reluctance. Phrases like “But I have a problem, I am afraid, there is an issue” will do. Try your own thing. But make sure that you start taking up a more defiant body posture from this point onwards.

D stands for describing the reasons. This is the phase for freaking out, verbally that is. Don’t hold back. Come up with every reason (rational, tearjerker…) for why you can’t say YES. Go on… take 10 minutes. It’s your time to hog the limelight.

N stands for NO. Say it…. Look into his/her eyes and deliver that message without any trace or hint of any apology. This is not the time to beat around the bush. Say it clearly and directly.

O stands for counter options. Be careful here… Offer options only if you really really want to. Don’t get back into the towel –wringer routine. Remember- You teach the world how to treat you.

Quite simple isn’t it ?- SURDNO.

So let’s work an example out together…read each word carefully and consider the implications. You are about to say NO (probably for the first time)

You work in a department with many others. Life has been hectic recently. You have promised to take your family to the show that evening that is running its last night – they have been sitting bored at home for many days. Your boss comes and asks you to stay late that particular night. How do you say no ?

Here it goes

BOSS: ‘I want you to work overtime tonight’

S: Yes (smiling)!!!!!

U: We do have workload, there are many things to be done, projects to be completed..blah blah….

R: But I have to tell you something

D: I have not seen my children very much this week and tonight I promised to take them to the show…. blah blah..

N: So I cannot work overtime tonight

O (only if required) : Would it be helpful if I stayed tomorrow?

Now I don’t assure you that this will start working from the first instance onwards. He may still succeed in twisting your arms and your kids may miss the show anyway. But you have started the process of making him unlearn his unfair ways of dealing with you. You taught him over a period of months or years may be. Unlearning will also take its own time. But eventually, he will stop wringing the towel and will move on to another submissive victim- who hasn’t read my post yet.

So all the best with SURDNO. Let me give you something for the weekend. Try this case out…..

You work in a department with many others. Its crisis time. When you joined you were promised a raise within 6 months of starting. This was not given. It’s now 12 months. You have scored well in your appraisal and have been given more responsibilities. However the boss refuses to give you a raise.

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