Negotiating the “Yes”
I once had a manager who just couldn’t say no. Whatever people requested of our team, she gave an enthusiastic “Sure!” without any regard to current workload or business demands. She was an order taker, not a manager.
In my most overwhelmed, burned out moments, having collapsed under unrealistic promises made on my behalf without consulting with me first, I had an epiphany along with that bottle of wine I was downing.
I didn’t want her to say “no” to these requests. I wholly agreed with 99% of them and felt that every single one was a legitimate need. What I needed was for her to negotiate the yes.
This is something I do all the time in managing my work. When a request is made of my time or skills, I inevitably say yes. But it doesn’t stop there. I may work with the requester to modify what actually gets delivered, in what timing, or how it gets delivered. 90% of the time, the requester is reasonable and works with me for that mutual win/win.
You may request an emergency apple pie for tomorrow, but if I can get you all the ingredients, a recipe on how to make it yourself and a baker to call with any questions this afternoon, you’re probably going to be agreeable to that solution if I explain that I am baking 20 custom pies for the CEO all day. (Let’s blame this weird scenario on writing this at 4 am – you get the point).
I find that when people make a request, they usually have a few delusions about it. They are delusional about how urgent it TRULY is. They are oblivious to what is actually involved in making the request happen. They have weird fantasies about how it should be magically done. They may be unaware of what is contingent on making it successful/viable. Most importantly, people tend to ask for way more than they actually need to get the result they want.
It’s my job to evaluate the request, determine the best approach/solution and make that recommendation. It’s my job to take command of the request and employ my subject matter expertise. Looking to feel more empowered in your job or life? This is exactly how to do it.
Sometimes “no” simply isn’t an option. And that’s perfectly fine. But negotiating the yes is worth embracing so we are truly in command of our own lives – our precious time, energy and attention.
Posted on January 16, 2014, in Career, Life and tagged can't say no, leadership, management, negotiation, overwhelm, project management, stress, taking command, workload. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.