Mike Clayton

Member Article

Why managers are so bad at saying ?no?

You know you take on too much. It may be that promise you made to a client, the extra work you agreed todo for your boss, or helping out that annoying colleague when you really ought to be doing something else. We all do it, but why?

Is it because you don’t know the importance of saying “no” sometimes? I doubt it. I think it is more likely that that you are worried about the consequences of saying “no”. What if they don’t like me, what if I miss a good opportunity, what if I sound negative? There are many reasons why we find it hard to say no. Here are some.


Super-manager needs to show their strength, so will fear that saying “no” is a sign of weakness. They arecalm in a crisis and hate attention, so will hate to ask for help. Saying “no” means confrontation – perhaps itis easier to say “yes” and just get on with it… until super-manager breaks down.


Caring-manager needs to look after others and daren’t say “no” for fear it will hurt them. They can’t standfeeling criticised, and saying “no” would open up the risk of reproach, so perhaps it is better to say “yes”. Itseems the one person caring-manager will neglect… is themself.


Perfect-manager has to get things right. They are organised and thoroughly responsible. So saying “no”can seem like a breach of that responsibility and a sign they are not as perfect as they hope. Since they canbe self-critical at times, saying “yes” means there is no risk… until by over-committing, they one day letsthemself down.


Rebellious and creative, busy-manager only feels good if they are constantly trying hard to do more andmore. They take on lots, say “yes” happily, and then get bored and leave things unfinished. “No” rarelycrosses busy-manager’s mind, but they are often so disorganised they forget their “yes”… until the lastmoment.


Yes-manager hates to sound negative – and what is more negative than “no”? They fear that others willjudge them harshly for saying no, so say yes instead, helping to boost their self-esteem. But deep down, yes-manager knows that they are at risk of losing, not winning people’s respect… they start to treat yes-manager like a doormat.

What is the Answer?

Five managers: one answer. Not a puny, negative “no”, but a bold, strong, caring, active, perfect, positive N.O.

N.O. is not a word, it is an acronym. N.O. stands for Noble Objection: saying “NO” for a good, positivereason, that allows you to remain strong and caring, top get the important things right, and to stay busy withwhat matters most. NO is a choice to decline the things that don’t matter, that won’t make you healthier, happier or wiser, and that will get in the way of doing your job and building your career.

Not only will you be happier saying NO a little more often, but your team and your boss will be too. They will be the beneficiaries of a better you. And what could be stronger, more caring, more perfect, more active and more positive than that?

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Mike Clayton .

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