Behavioral Science

Say No to “Yes”

by . November 25th, 2014

It’s really easy to say yes.

A friend of mine had this really bad habit in college to say yes to everything and soon, she’d be petrified by the amount of things she needed to do or the stark changes to things that were already perfect just cause somebody said so.

It’s easy to agree to that deadline, or that extra thing, or that feature you believe can be improved over time when it really sucks right now. But you end up with a bad product with no direction and a bad schedule with no time to solve the stuff you need to.

Say no. Say it like you mean it. Scream it at the top of your lungs and love it. Say it to the bad ideas and the good ideas too. Do it so that you can say yes to the projects that already exist. Or say no to those also. Your choice. Whatever you do, fix your priorities. It takes a major disaster for you to wish you said yes. But it only takes a tiny nudge for you to wish you said no.

But I get it. You’re not saying no because you’re afraid. You’re afraid of the what-ifs and the broken bridges. Your afraid for your face-value and of the rumors that might spread or those missed opportunities. But it’s better to say it now than later. Otherwise, you’re just postponing the inevitable and making everyone wait on you.

And no. The customer is not always right. Don’t add walls of text on a business card design, or use yarn to build your building just because someone said it’d look pretty. You’d be harming both yourself and the customer if you did, and probably other people too. If the product doesn’t work, doesn’t matter who’s happy. Integrity is key.

When saying no, be honest, polite, and smart. Don’t give them lame excuses why you said no. You’re just going to make them angry. Give them the good answer. Long if need be, short in all other cases. Make them understand. And if they still want what they want, point them to somebody else that can fill those requirements for them.