Kairos Management

The Time Management of No

Last week I lost an opportunity.

I had a very warm lead with a prospect, but it ended up not working out. I had multiple conversations, great dialog, and a good connection. However, in the end I held firm on what I was going to offer for my services. I told myself “No” to any additional changes to the project price. As a result, the potential customer decided against using my services. While I will miss the income and client, I felt it was an example of practicing the time management of no.

From Psychology Today, “Many of us are afraid of conflict. We don’t like others to be angry with us or critical of us. We therefore avoid saying ‘no’ when we are afraid that it will put us into conflict with someone else, whether that someone is an intimate partner, a colleague or friend, or a supervisor or boss.” (1)

Only 25% of respondents to the Time Management Analysis tool from Kairos Management Solutions expressed they are fully confident in their ability to say “no.”

The skill to refuse from a time management perspective comes in two different forms: external and internal.

The External No

Probably the most obvious are those requests, demands, needs, invites, and appeals from others. Almost always unplanned, they can significantly impact your productivity and disrupt work rhythm and concentration. Many of these interruptions are likely justified and you are being called on to help. Nevertheless, you must learn to know when to say, “No.”

Expressing the External No

Saying “no” can actually be done many times without actually using the word “no.”

A reactive way to respond is to begin by asking questions. An easy one is, “Can this wait? I am available later this afternoon.” Another, “How important is this? I can give you time tomorrow to review.” Understanding the situation and importance can make the situation can help the “no” for both sides.

A second counter is to suggest alternatives before saying “no.” Try, “Tell me what other solutions you think could be tried to solve the problem.” The idea here is to get their mind thinking differently, so that they can go back and develop new solutions, giving you time to complete your work and reach out at your convenience to help.

The Internal No

The second form of being able to say “no” comes from within. When struggling with time management, people have a tendency to allow themselves to be distracted, losing a sense of focus. Instead of maintaining a schedule or plan, they allow change when they should be telling themselves “no.”

Expressing the Internal No

Knowing your priorities (short and long term) lays the foundation to hold firm. Focusing on reducing and eliminating electronic distractions, keeps you dedicated to your goals and activities. The temptation to deviate from the important tasks is jettisoned and the personal “no” much easier when personal diversions are acknowledged and addressed.

Procrastination is also an internal “no.” Create solid processes along with your daily plan to stop the delay.

Saying “no” does not actual mean you need to use the word “no.” Decide if it is external or internal. Ask questions, gain understanding, and provide alternatives. Bring structure into your day and communicate that structure to others. Soon, you’ll be addressing the “no” on your terms and at your time.

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