The Power of “No”

If you say “yes” to everything, I bet you feel overwhelmed much of the time. Oh, all of the time? Want to know how to fix that? Start saying “no” a little more often.

If you work for someone else, set boundaries. Then keep them.

A company’s aim (as regards its workforce) is to get as much out of its employees as possible at as low a cost as possible. Some companies care about employee happiness and satisfaction, which creates a mitigating force, but doesn’t eliminate this goal.

It’s important to understand that you are not your company’s #1 priority. What does this mean? You need to be your own #1 priority.

Look out for yourself by setting boundaries and keeping them. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s a possible thing to do. And it involves a series of conversations that need to be carefully planned and calmly executed.

When asked to take on additional work that is beyond the scope of what you feel is reasonable or possible, a good first step is to let your employer know what is currently on your plate. The second step is to ask your employer what they would like you to take off of your plate in order to take on this additional work.

Ex: This new project sounds really interesting and I’m excited to get started! I’m currently working on A, B and C, which is taking up all of my time, though. Which of A, B or C would you like me to de-prioritize in order to take on this new work?

And if your employer refuses to take something off your plate? Well, then let the negotiations begin! There are a couple of levers you can pull:

  • More responsibility → A title upgrade
  • More work → Cash $ or equity

If your employer is getting more out of you, it’s only fair that you get more out of them. Am I right?

If you work for yourself, focus on… what you want to focus on.

There are a finite number of hours in the day, which means you can either do many things just OK, or a few things really well. I choose the latter.

At byAssociation, we connect top, vetted marketing consultants with companies who need project-based or short-term marketing help. There are two pieces to this:

  1. We connect companies with stellar consultants (vs. doing the consulting ourselves)
  2. We focus on project-based or temporary roles (vs. full-time roles)

Many opportunities have come our way to do the consulting ourselves, or to help companies fill full-time roles, and as difficult as it is to turn these opportunities away, we do. Why? Because it isn’t our model. And every exception we make takes time away from developing our core business.

Ex: Hi potential client. Your company sounds awesome and we would love to work with you. Unfortunately, we don’t place full-time hires, so I don’t think we’re going to be able to help you out on this one. Best of luck in your search and we hope to work with you in the future!

“No” ≠ “Negative”

Saying “no” while setting boundaries or maintaining focus isn’t the same as being negative. Did you see the examples above? They carry a positive tone. Nobody wants to work with a Negative Nancy (or Ned).

Creating limits, and sticking to them, signals that you care about your time. Do you know who cares about their time? Bosses do. And everybody wants to work with a Boss.


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