John Galbraith’s housekeeper was a whiz when it came to saying 'No'. One day in 1965 the noted economist was taking a nap when President Lyndon Johnson called his home.
“He’s taking a nap and has left strict orders not to be disturbed,” his housekeeper told the President.
Johnson replied, “Well, I’m the President. Wake him up.”
Her response? A simple: “I’m sorry, Mr. President, but I work for Mr. Galbraith, not for you.”
It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments. You simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.
Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
Find your 'Yes'. Before you can become good at saying 'No', you have to know to what you’re saying Yes to when you’re saying No. You see every opportunity that you pass with a No is really saying Yes to something else. Something that you’d prefer to do or something more important to you in the long run. You can’t hope to say No when the pressure is on until you know for sure what you really want. When you’re feeling pressure to say Yes and acquiescence feels easier than taking a stand, just think of your Yes.
Make sure you’re actually saying 'No'. Make no mistake about it, 'No' is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say No, you need to avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Using limp phrases instead of saying No will often be considered a Yes. When it’s time to say no, just say no!