20Jul
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30Jun
As we celebrate the 4th of July, let’s remember those who have fought for our freedom. 
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26May
As we celebrate another Memorial Day with friends and family, let us not forget the sacrifices made by those who died protecting us.
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02Dec

No, absolutely not. Or, I said NO.

When the word “No” is said in that fashion, it can be off-putting. Unless, of course, you’ve already responded “no” when initially asked, and the receiving party wouldn’t listen. Perhaps it’s because they weren’t taking you seriously, or it could be they didn’t respect your wish to decline whatever they were proposing.
How many times have you said no in the past week or even last month? We’re guessing it’s limited to less than the number of fingers on one hand. Why is that?

The word “no” isn’t complicated but put aside the personal circumstances (i.e., requests from family and friends), let’s focus on how it comes into play for business. Whether you’re an employee or employer, there are many instances when someone has asked for your help outside your normal responsibilities.

Some examples are:

Helping a co-worker because they fell behind

Coordinating an important company party

Helping a co-worker because they fell behind

Coordinating an important company party

Does the above sound familiar? You would agree to most requests in the past because perhaps it gave you more visibility or helped propel you in your role. If you own a business, you’ll agree that early on, responding “yes” to these types of requests allowed you to rub elbows with others you may not have met otherwise.
Now that you’ve grown a bit and had some, or a lot, of success, you have even more people asking you to donate your time. If this is the case, it usually means you’ve developed a reputation for honoring your commitments, and that gives potential customers and clients an additional layer of trust as they’ve had the opportunity to get to know you in a non-business environment. Or it could mean that others recognize you as someone who always agrees to requests for help. The latter isn’t flattering, and people may begin to define you as a “pushover.” Be careful if that’s the case.
You’re also at the point where your responsibilities have increased, and your biggest challenge is managing your schedule. Some of the expanded duties could mean your business benefitted from these outside volunteer efforts. But do you ever feel that the volunteer activities are so time-consuming that you are suffering in other areas when it comes to available time?

Manage your calendar.
Don’t Let it Manage You.

If you’re on the never-ending treadmill of trying to keep up, it’s time to take control and get back on track. It’s easy to say “yes” to a task that may take under an hour; however, if you agree to do that for multiple requests, it turns into a battle against time when you add it all up.

And many times, the “volunteer” projects may be something you’re passionate about, so you throw yourself into it but then begin to fall behind on the strategic activities that keep the lights on and others employed.

Remember this, when you say “No,” nobody will die.

Like all good people, we want to help when we can. Not to mention, avoid letting anyone down. For many, the reluctance to say no is uncomfortable and can make you feel unnecessarily guilty. Or you may worry that you could be missing an opportunity. And even worse, are you burning a bridge with someone you could potentially work with in the future?

The person asking for your help will respect you more if you say something like “I have a full plate and cannot commit right now” than if you say yes, and then become so overwhelmed that you fail at the task.

We’re not saying to turn off the “yesses completely,” but… think of that aspect of your life as part of your business. Decide how much time you can realistically donate and stick to the plan. BEFORE you say yes, talk openly with the person asking for help about how much time they feel it would require.

And be honest, if it’s more than what you put into your plan, decline. They will understand. Or, they may have another option for you to help that fits within your time budget.

Don't Be Vague

When in the moment, and you feel awkward about saying no, don’t leave it open-ended by saying something like, “I don’t have the time right now, but let me see if I can make it work.” Guaranteed, you will walk away feeling weighed down because you instantly know you are now pretty much committed to yet something else. Choose one area you’d like to volunteer in and give it your all, but of course, in the time you’ve set for yourself.
And, NEVER apologize for saying no.
When you bite off more than you can chew when it comes to your time – whether it’s business, your career, or volunteer efforts, remember at that moment when you should be saying no, how stressed you were when you said yes when you shouldn’t have. Think about your priorities and stick to them.

Now say it with a smile: NO