This has been a bit of a “no” day. I just realised that in short succession I’ve said “no” to four people. Two of them were article pitches and one was for help with a project (sorry guys). Those “no”s were carefully considered for between 1 – 12 hours. The fourth was instant – a sponsored article pitch.
It was the instant one that got me thinking, I really must do that more often. I need to learn to say “no” quicker. In particular to invitations and enquiries.
It is a regular complaint from PRs that they don’t get definitive answers back from journalists. Nobody really minds a “no”. A “no” is good. It means they can move on without wasting time.
My problem is the sheer volume of DMs and, in particular, emails.
If I hesitate – “oh, that looks interesting but am I free then? I’ll have a look in a moment” or “I think I know the answer to that but it’ll take more than just one sentence to deal with it. I’ll sort it out later” – then it’s all over. The email will disappear offscreen and out of my head in 10 mins when the next automated email ‘fetch’ from my six mail servers fills my in-trays with other 20 emails (post spam filter).
The current state of my three in-trays says it all. The big one, combining 3 accounts has almost 8,000 emails in it!
Business/tech/social media writer, Chris Brogan, posed two underlying reasons for prevarication a few months ago in his Say No Faster post.
Why do we linger before saying no? One reason is that we hate to disappoint. This is my primary reason. The other reason is that we sense that something might be a good opportunity, even if we have absolutely no capacity to handle what’s being pointed in our direction.
I think I’m going to have to come up with some draft replies that say “no” in an honest and simple way, and use them more often.
And take Chris’ ‘Say No quicker’ pledge:
From now on, I resolve to say no faster. I will say no with grace and poise and kindness, but I will say no. Even when something takes “just five minutes,” if I don’t have the time or don’t feel compelled to sway from the course of my own commitments, I will say no with kindness, and wish the person well. Saying no faster is much better than not responding, and much better than the guilt I will feel if I say yes, but can’t deliver.
Will you take the pledge?
Image: Tim Ellis