Saying NO to a Friend or Colleague

Most of us are pretty bad at this. How about you? Is saying NO when you really don’t want to do something really hard to do? So why do we have such trouble telling the truth and finding ways to “just say no”? Here’s the heart of it.

Someone asks you to do them a favor. Problem: if you say no you may lose a friend or work colleague—he/she will be mad, think you’re selfish, uncooperative, mean etc. and you’ll feel bad. SO you lie: you say “yes”. Result? Others get what they want and you end up feeling weak and really mad at yourself. “What a wuss I was” etc.

Good news! Here’s a better option than Just Say Yes (they win) or Just Say No (you could lose). How about you both win and each gets some of what you need? Plus you keep your self-respect because you learn to say what you really mean?

Learn to talk and explain- not to just say OK.

To a colleague at work who asks for help creating a report? “You know I’d love to help but do I have a problem! I’m way over my head right now working on a deadline, and I’m so stuck! But here’s what I can do…” Then go on to accept something you can help with and show where and how the rest of problem might get solved.  See how you both win?

He/she gets your help but within reason. By letting your colleague in on the truth, you’ve shown your problem and your willingness. You end up helping but only as much as you can – and want to.

With friends it’s often even harder to say no. But how about this?

“Wow, this is tough. You know I’d hate to turn you down – afraid it would hurt our friendship, that you’d get mad or something and I surely don’t want that. But those earrings (equipment, book, whatever) – that’s very difficult.” Then explain why—sentimental, one of a kind, gets broken easily…

“ So now — see why I can’t do that. But how about this?” Then offer an option—“I can surely lend, do, offer this.”

See- the secret to saying No is to take care of BOTH people’s needs by telling the truth. Telling the truth first about how you feel and what you can and can’t do, rather than just knuckling under and then feeling resentful. It puts you in a pro-active position but it also presents your reality.

Engage your friend or colleague in a mutually beneficial solution. It empowers both of you. You’re still a good, helpful friend and colleague. And you’re feeling good about it all. Just remember—the truth shall set you free…

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Handling Tough Situations or The Art of Compromise

Now that you know about my blog and will be tuning in (often, I hope) I’d like to write from another aspect of what I care about— connecting with others personally, and making it work in today’s emailing non-talking world.

So here are some ideas about handling tough situations face-to-face… Might be a little long-winded but it has lotsa really good approaches. Check it out. They can really help…

Who doesn’t ever need to make compromises in their lives? Whether it’s little ones like where we go for dinner or big ones like changes in your workplace, how you do your job or negotiating deals, there’s an art to getting what you want, compromising and doing it with some grace and style.

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The key to handling difficult situations successfully—ones that need some giving and bending– is this: learn to think through not only what your goals and needs are but concentrate on what the other person’s issues and targets are. Aim for “How can both of us come out with wins instead of ending with ‘I win, you lose’ “. This not only gets you to a solution quicker; it guarantees you a solution that will stick, with both sides feeling good about the end product.

Here are some basic approaches that can get you there:

  • Begin with a question. Define the issue before you start attacking what may not be the basic problem. Question with real interest in the answer. It helps de-fuse situations that can become accusatory and adversarial. Everyone needs to feel they’re being heard.
  • See and hear the problem from both points of view before you go off with your version and your solution. You’ll be surprised to hear a very different version of what you thought the issues were. Gives you a much truer focus for a solution
  • Engage the other person in arriving at a solution, rather than just giving the solution yourself. Asking for his/her solution gives you a chance to hear that person’s goals and needs right away. That gives you a chance to see where yours and his/hers fit.
  • Explain the situation using “I” not “You”.I must not have explained that well”  instead of “You got that part all wrong”. Instead of accusing, you’ll keep the dialogue going.
  • Present and explain your side without making eye contact! Placethe issue figurativelyon a table between you— talk about that down there. Eye contact is too hot- creates defensiveness, not hearing and understanding.
  • Edit what you say. Get to the point first, then add a few details as examples. We all talk too much at the start and the main point is lost. Refer to what the other person already knows before adding your point of view.
  • Add another question if you feel you’re losing attention. Problems only get solved in a dialogue, not a monologue.
  • Respect the other’s position. Lighten the atmosphere with a smile, give some respect for the other’s passion and point of view, show a positive attitude toward a solution– goes a long way.

Bottom Line: It always takes two to tango. Both must stay actively involved in order for anything to work out well between folks.