Sometimes, You Have to Say a Nice “No”

Yes ma’am! Yes sir!

Most entrepreneurs can’t find enough hours in a day to do all of the things they want. Despite this however, we often find ourselves saying yes to even more requests. Maybe it’s because as entrepreneurs we’re optimists by nature. We believe that even the most mundane tasks can still be squeezed into a day. It could also be due to our instinct to always impress other people and avoid causing disappointment. Builders know this all too often. Clients often make unlimited requests and countless inquiries.

What’s at stake?

When you take on too much, you are putting your health, credibility and efficiency at risk. When you over reach and are not able to deliver on all of your promises, not only will it give you stress, it can also cast a negative light on you and your entire company.

Saying NO without hurting business relationships

A successful entrepreneur should be accountable for all commitments. It’s also important to manage the expectations of both your team and your clients. Here are a few things to remember so that you can say “no” without burning bridges or hurting a client’s feelings.

1. Establish boundaries – When you’re dealing with clients, give them a gentle reminder of the scope and limits of your contract and agreement.  Be professional about it. When you’re dealing with your constituents, know your priorities and limits. Don’t say yes when you actually mean no. Don’t break your own rules. Be calm and firm, but never rude nor disrespectful.

2. Ask for some time to check your calendar – It’s an acceptable business practice to review your schedule first or converse with other principals before committing to an answer. It’s not a good idea to quickly say yes when you’re not yet sure that you can deliver. A quick no on the other hand can immediately ruin good ties. Again, be professional. Check your schedule first and see if you can confidently say yes to a request before doing so.

3. Pause – Before saying yes, take a deep breath and think. What do you r instincts say? Should you say yes? Or is your mind screaming, “No you cannot possibly accommodate this!” You can also take a longer pause and give yourself some time to make a pros and cons list. Talk to the client and lay out your situation first. This can lead you both to a nice compromise. The key here is to stop briefly and assess the situation. It also buys you some time!

4. Explain your constraints – Don’t be so quick to dole out the rejection. Make sure to provide the requestor with a clear context. The task they’re asking may be too hard on your current workload, manpower, budget, or strategies. Make sure to keep things encouraging first.

5. Say YES to the person, NO to the task – Sometimes, it’s all about the manner on how you talk to someone. Make sure that the other person understands how positively you feel about them. Even if you may not be able to accommodate the request now, reassure them that it’s not a personal affront. Keep the relationship on a positive note.

6.  Sandwich the NO between a double YES – If you’re sure that you won’t be able to commit to a specific request, you can keep things positive by sandwiching the NO between two yeses. For example, if your client demands that you yourself visit the build site, and you absolutely cannot do it, give them a positive project update first, and then end the statement by saying that you will send your best man to personally inspect their concern. Give them two things to smile about so they can forego the minor disappointment.

Before anything else…

But wait, before you do anything drastic, make sure to have a good scheduling system in place. Something like SAM- The Superintendent’s Automated Manager. Use SAM to coordinate your things-to-do and your project timelines. With its instant reporting tools, you’ll find out immediately just where each project stands. It will allow you to check your schedule in an instant, as well as pass along vital information to your key personnel.

So to conclude, remember that it’s okay to say no sometimes. Delegating the request to a team member could be the better solution. Sometimes you also just need to prioritize. As a leader you have to make the tough decisions, but at the end of the day, you still need to keep your stakeholders happy.

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