Your failure to master the use of this one word is stopping you from getting what you want from your career.

Depending on where you are in your career at this stage in your life, you will have varying awareness levels revolving around your ability to get things done.

Experienced business owners, CEO’s, and Senior Leaders mastered this ability a long time ago and likely understand that they constantly need to be strengthening this muscle. On the other hand, new business owners, new salespeople or people are generally not amazing at it.

There is a correlation between how high and how fast you rise within your market or organisation and how comfortable you are with uttering ‘no’ to yourself and with others.

“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes”-Tony Blair

Make no mistake about what I am saying here. It is only a question of conditioning and comfort. You can and you will get better at delivering ‘no’s’, because you overall happiness and self-satisfaction in your life and career is dependent on it.

When you have worked with and managed as many green salespeople and businesspeople as I have it becomes very clear.

Here are some expert pointers that will smash through those self-limiting barriers and turn you in to a ‘no’ machine (I really wanted to put a smiley emoji here). Just don’t be a *@ck about it :

1)Be prepared with your core reason for saying no:

I’m not advising you to wake up and say ‘no’ in front of the mirror one thousand times whilst you brush your teeth here, but strategy and putting the word ‘no’ to the front of your mind when you get up is critical, to getting this done. For example, I used to waste a lot of time and spend more money than I had to on my lunch breaks back in the day. After realising that I was burning through more cash then I was earning, I had to take stock and identify those moments on a daily basis where I was maybe not aware of what I was actually doing. I then decided that I had to say to my lunch crew, ‘sorry I can’t today’. After a while I built up the courage to start saying ‘nah, I’m not feeling the expensive lunch today people’. If you become aware of your moments of weakness, you are on the path to tackling that very problem.

2) ‘No’ isn’t the only way of saying ‘no’:

If you habitually find the word ‘no’ a bit too difficult to get going on, why not utilise some substitutes? Back when I was focusing pretty hard on making ‘no’ a regular tool in my vocabulary, I realised just how difficult it is to go from 0-100 in a relatively short space of time. Examples of substitutes include: ‘I don’t think so’, ‘it is unlikely’, ‘I really doubt that I will be able to’, ‘not this time’, ‘let me think about it’, ‘can I have that it writing’, ‘thanks, but I’d rather not’ and ‘not for me, thanks’. The list goes on and on.

3)Think of the opportunity cost first.

You could, go out tonight with your friends or you could study up for that extra piece of work that you wanted to do. You could take a holiday abroad with friends or you could use that time to start that short course on Facebook marketing. You could have a McDonalds cheeseburger after your gym session or you could shoot for a protein shake. That is the power of ‘opportunity cost thinking’. It has the power to change your actions over time by making you stop and then think to yourself; “I could go do ‘this’, but I could be doing ‘that’. ‘That’ will get me one step closer towards being who I want to be and ‘this’ won’t really. Maybe I should choose to take action on ‘this’ rather than ‘that’ this time, because I promised my accountability partner that I’d focus on doing more of ‘that’ as it is linked closer to my long term goals.

4) Master the polite yet assertive tone.

One of my favourite quotes is Theodore Roosevelts “speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far.”

 The polite yet assertive tone wonderfully encapsulates the spirit of the halfway point between sounding ‘bossy’ and ‘sweet’. It is best to speak with a friendly tone but use strong and decisive words if you wish to project the image of friendliness and strength at the exact same time. When you use the word ‘no’ with a light grin on your face (which projects comfort and confidence in the decision that. You have made’, people are a lot more likely to take you at your word and not attempt to change your mind.

5)Hell; change your mind later. You actually have the right to do that.

You very well may fall back into the habits that the old you used to indulge in. But, I’m here to tell you this. Right now. You can turn around and retract your earlier decision after a couple of minutes thought. There is a chance that you used to suffer with the ‘need to please’, so it is important to remind yourself that there is a Plan B. ‘Sorry, I’ve had a think. I just can’t’. I’ll finish on this all-important insight. It is not about what you say, it is how you say it. Put that in your pipe and use it.

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