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Say “No Thanks” More Often and Reclaim Your Productivity!

Topic: Business Management | Comments Off on Say “No Thanks” More Often and Reclaim Your Productivity!

Posted on October 4, 2010 by admin

Guest post by Adam Toren, co-founder of, one of the largest and fastest growing small business social networking forums for entrepreneurs, and a “must visit” resource for start-up CEOs, founders, aspiring entrepreneurs, mentors and investors worldwide, reaching an audience that very few can match.

Why is it that people often say yes when they really want to say no?  It could be that it’s engrained in us from birth.  In our childhood, what was the one thing we hated to hear more than anything else?  “Liver for dinner!”  Ok, but after that it was probably, “No.”  And it’s obvious our parents didn’t like saying it any more than we liked hearing it.  Thus used phrases like, “We’ll see,” and “Go ask your father” were born.

As entrepreneurs, we can’t fall back on those phrases. The business version of “We’ll see” is seen as weak, and in business, passing the buck is frowned upon.  So even those of us who aren’t habitual people-pleasers will sometimes say yes to spare feelings or safeguard egos, even if it means reducing our own productivity.  Add to that the reluctance to upset a client or prospect, and we can ultimately find ourselves saying yes to just about everybody.

Don’t get caught in the “default yes”
Do clients, colleagues, and people you barely know from networking events send you email newsletters that you never read?  Do you automatically accept Facebook and LinkedIn friend, group, and page requests – knowing full well they’ll result in floods of unwanted inbox messages?  What keeps you from unsubscribing?  Why don’t you ignore or reject those requests and invitations you don’t find valuable?  Chances are, you’re worried about hurting someone’s feelings, or you’re concerned about the impression unsubscribing will make.  People often fall into the trap of thinking that turning people down – in any form – is bad business.

The fact is, it’s not bad business to protect your productivity by being selective about the things you say yes to.  Saying yes to everyone isn’t doing you or anyone else any favors.  All of us who send out newsletters expect a certain number of unsubscribes, and professionals never take them personally. After all, we’re all in the same boat – we all get a ton of email we don’t need.

As for social media, the beauty of the “ignore” button is that no one knows when you’ve clicked it!  They don’t get popup saying, “Frank just ignored your friend request.  He obviously hates you.”  Also, most of those you’d rather ignore are the same people sending requests to everyone and their dog, so it’s doubtful they can even remember who they sent requests to.  So don’t worry about being selective.  Social media can be a fantastic tool for cultivating business relationships, and it should be used as such.  So, select those you want to get to know and politely decline the rest.  It’s true that opportunity can be found anywhere, but there’s nothing wrong with narrowing down your contact lists to those most likely to result in mutually beneficial relationships.

Managing the Yeses
Alright, you’ve committed to reducing the percentage of time you say yes, but you still find that your productivity is lacking?  You’re not alone.  After all, it’s not just email and social media we have to keep track of.  We’ve got requests to attend webinars, trade shows, networking events, and a seemingly endless list of other “opportunities” to manage.  So even after you decide to say no to more of these, it’s likely you’re still keeping track of a lot of activity.  Oh, and you say you’d like to actually run your business some of the time as well?  How do you manage it all?

For starters, check out WorkingPoint’s small business contact management system.  Additionally, there are tons of other online scheduling tools available, and you might even consider hiring a virtual assistant.  In any case, don’t hesitate to get help in some form.  Once you’ve learned to say no and manage your yeses, you’ll be amazed at how your productivity will soar!

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