I was chatting with a lawyer friend of mine (“Dewey”) the other day about a client (“Peter”) he’s been trying to woo for two years. For two years, Dewey has been buying lunches, dinners, and otherwise fawning over Peter, the owner of a private, midsized company. Peter finally asked Dewey to do a tidbit of legal work – the legal equivalent to shining his shoes – at a vastly discounted rate.
Dewey said yes.
Yes, even lawyers can suffer from the inability to look out for themselves with a simple “no.”
Here are 5 awesome times to love “no”:
1. When you’re saying “yes” out of fear you’ll miss something. Dewey was afraid he’d miss out on a lucrative client, so he kept pursuing Peter. Little good ever comes from decisions made from fear.
2. When someone wants to “pick your brain.” Particularly if you get a lot of requests for said brain picking, carefully consider your response before you automatically say “yes” just to be nice. If you use the request to develop client relationships, that’s one thing. But a lot of these types of requests are time drains, so choosing wisely is important. (check out Marie Forleo’s video for advice on how to deal with this)
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3. When someone asks for a discount and you don’t want to give one (check out How to Prevent New Clients From Haggling Your Rates, a Social Triggers video). Dewey could have benefited from that advice.
4. When an invitation won’t advance you professionally and you won’t enjoy it personally. Express your appreciation for the opportunity/invitation, and then say “no.”
5. When you really don’t want to eat/drink more but feel like you should say “yes” to be polite. Again, express appreciation, but hold your ground. What’s more important? Your health and sense of well-being or making great Aunt Bessie momentarily happy by having more pie?
Finally, remember that the person on the other end of your discussion might be the one with the “no” problem. Be alert for waffling, especially if you’re in sales or talking with potential clients. You WANT the other person to say “no,” not waffle. “No” is the ultimate time saver.
Think of all the other clients Dewey could have won in the time he was pursuing Peter. Chances are Peter wasn’t using Dewey for free meals; he simply didn’t know how to say “no.”
For a great book on learning to say “no,” check out: NO! How One Word Can Transform Your Life by Jana Kemp
Do you have problems saying “no”? What tips do you have for overcoming it?