Coaching Saying No

“We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears.”- La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, 38

A common complaint among managers is their employees inability to say "no" effectively. Coaching this skill is an effective way to increase employee morale and customer saticfaction. A question is posed and the immediate answer is “no,” but after the question has been given adequate time for consideration, the answer changes to “yes.” Even worse is when the first answer is “yes” and the new answer changes to “no.”

It happens in every business from time to time. Re-evaluation of decisions can be so commonplace in some businesses that the person asking for a decision intuitively knows the first answer is going to change. As a result, action is postponed until time has passed—hopefully enough time to be sure the manager will not change his mind. Time is wasted for everyone: the manager, the salesperson, and the customer.

A worse scenario arises with customer questions. If a customer has to wait for answers from your company, but gets direct and decisive answers from a competitor, the customer feels the competitor has more interest in the account, and is more likely to feel comfortable with the company that responds quickly. Because business functions faster today than at any other time in history, the speed of your managerial decisions can have a powerful effect at all levels. It is probable that the speed we deal with today will continue to increase in the coming years, so quick, decisive decisions will be more important than ever.

Saying “no” and then changing your mind is a poor way to exhibit the leadership that is demanded at the executive level. Although you might not like to say “no,” use it when necessary. Even more fundamental is your ability to say “yes” and stick to it. A positive response, whenever possible, gives the decision a positive charge for success.

A quick decision does not have to be a bad decision. Sometimes you have enough information or previous experience to make a fast, good decision. But if you need to “think about it,” be sure to provide a decisive answer within a given timeframe. There is nothing wrong with taking time to gather information and consider all options. Even though the decision isn’t fast, at least it isn’t provided hastily and then reconsidered. The ability to be decisive will serve you well as your career progresses, as long as the decisions you make are the correct ones.

How to Say "No" Effectively

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