It’s always tough to get new business, manage a difficult client relationship and just yourself and your commitments.
But can we really afford to say No to:
- An under-performing marketing project?
- A difficult and dysfunctional client?
- A partner with a bad attitude?
- Working ineffectively on least important work?
Yes, we can.
In fact, now more than ever we will benefit from sharpening our business practices and saying Yes to our values and NO to those people and situations that compromise them.
That’s the premise of William Ury’s New York Times best-selling book The Power of A Positive No, so smartly recommended by my big sister and mentor Anne Donnellon, a recently retired professor at Babson College, author of Team Talk and a faculty member of the renowned Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.
Here’s Ury’s core idea — No is Yes and Yes is to your values, business and personal fulfillment, and most likely to your own personal success.
What are the values of a positive No?
- Create your own wants.
- Protect what you value.
- Change what no longer works.
So how do you realize those values? Ury recommends that you do so in three stages:
- Prepare your positive no — you uncover your Yes, empower your No, and respect your way to Yes.
- Deliver your positive no — you express your Yes, assert your No and propose a Yes.
- Follow through on your positive no — this is most important as you stay true to your Yes, underscore your No and negotiate to Yes.
Ury believes that the Power of a Positive No is like a tree. Your positive No is a strong trunk rooted in a deeper Yes and blossoming into a broader Yes.
This approach may seem really soft to business folks, but No is the key word in your strategic focus.
Ury cites Southwest Airlines, the most successful U.S. airline, and the original model for low-cost airlines worldwide. Southwest’s secret is to deliver a positive No to its customers. In order to say Yes to success and profitability (the first Yes), its strategy is to say No to reserved seats, No to hot meals and No to inter-airline baggage transfers.
Saying No to these three services, previously considered essential passenger benefits, enables Southwest to organize its planes for an incredibly quick turnaround at airports.
This then allows Southwest to say Yes (the second Yes) to affordable fares and to convenient schedules with reliable frequent flights — the qualities most valued by its customers.
So, saying No may seem soft, but it is strategic and powerful in your business and your personal life too!
How are you saying no to business and marketing practices or challenges and issues in your life that are wasting your precious time, money and fulfillment?
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