The Art Of Saying ‘No’ In Business

Do you ever feel that if you add one more task or activity to your, already, full plate, the plate is going to tip over and shatter into...

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Now that you have a visual representation of how you spend your time, realize that by taking on an additional task, you will have to substitute new tasks into a time slot occupied by an activity you already perform.

What is the opportunity cost for you in this regard? Is it worth it to accept the new task and eliminate a current activity. Remember, we all have the same 24 hours in a day, nothing more and nothing less. If the opportunity cost is not worth it for you, say “yes” and if not, say “no”.


Never Be Afraid to Say ‘No’ in Business

When I started my business, I attended every networking event that came to my attention, joined numerous committees of organizations and additional community organizations. However, at a certain point, I realized that taking on additional responsibilities was taking away from time I needed to focus on keeping my business running smoothly as well as precious “me time”.

Often times, we are afraid to say “no” to others because we are afraid we will disappoint the requesting person or organization. We are afraid of missed opportunities. However, we must understand that we cannot be everything to everyone all the time.

If you must say “no”, politely thank the individual requesting your time. Acknowledge the fact that they could have asked others, but chose you instead. If applicable, suggest there may be an opportunity that you can be of assistance in the future and then say “no”.

Depending on your relationship with the requesting individual, you may desire to elaborate on your reason for saying “no”. However, “no” is a complete sentence. When you start trying to explain your reason for saying “no”, you open the door for the requesting party to begin offering alternatives or question your decision. This is usually where the conversation gets uncomfortable and is what makes saying “no” so difficult.

When we say “no” to requests for our time, it is because what we are being asked to do is not a priority for us. We have the right to decide where our priorities lie and should not leave such critical decisions up to others.

Since I am already balancing as full a schedule, I have learned to say “no” to activities that are not directly growing and benefiting my business or enhancing my personal development. The first or second time you say “no” to someone requesting your time or talents may be difficult. However, the opportunity cost of spending your valuable time on existing business and personal activities is more important than taking on responsibilities you are not willing or able to dedicate your full attention to.

View it as an honor that your time and talents are being requested. Likewise, you must realize their tremendous value. Saying “no” may in fact mean saying “yes” to time more efficiently spent.


Dr. Carmen April is a Podiatrist and owner of her medical practice, The Foot And Ankle Healthcare Center in Nashville, TN. She is also the creator and blogger behind Dinner With Nerds where she shares restaurant spotlights, recipes, and interviews with professional, successful people conducted over dinner. She is an award winning Philanthropist in the Nashville Community, most recently being named a 2013 Nashville Business Journal Top Forty Under 40 Award Winner. 

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