Art Of Saying NO
March 9, 2022
Last week, I learned an important etiquette lesson from an old friend and senior professional acquaintance.
I needed some market information that I felt this friend of mine would help me with. So I reached out to him, hopeful that he would help me.
I sent him a WhatsApp message requesting a quick word with him to explain to him the specific issue I was grappling with and the help I sought from him.
My friend messaged me back, requesting me to pen down what exactly was it that I was seeking from him.
I did as he suggested. I detailed the issue and what exactly it was that I wanted his help on.
He promptly responded that he had moved on from the Industry and that could have helped me in a normal situation, but he was not in a position to help me given his current situation.
Short, crisp, and direct.
Every one of us comes across situations where someone wants our time, focus, resources for some very plausible reason. We usually evaluate how to respond based on our ability to help. But it’s not just ability that matters; it’s also whether we have the time and energy to take up the task to help. Therefore, even if we are time-constrained, we feel bad saying no because we don’t want the other person to feel bad. But what happens in the process is that we don’t do full justice to the help the other person is seeking most times. We get sucked into our own priorities and let the matter drag where the other person is desperately following up with us.
The lesson my friend taught me was valuable.
Whether you want to help someone or not is a personal choice you exercise, and you should not let your worry about what the other person will feel concern you in making the decision. So, If you can help and want to help, go right ahead and help. But if you can help but don’t want to help because you have other priorities, be direct and categorical in saying NO, like my friend was. I felt bad that he could not help me, but I was also grateful that he did not bounce me around with a half-hearted willingness or commitment to help.
My friend demonstrated the art of saying NO- by being genuine and direct in saying NO without worrying about the other person’s feelings.