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Leadership Tip #6 : Don’t Say “No”

In my last leadership tip, I recommended that you say “no”. This time, I’m recommending that you don’t say “no”.

At least minimise the word “no”. A “no” can be perceived as being very confrontational. How often do we blast out “no” before we even fully understand what we’re rejecting? Instead of the quick and intuitive “no”, how about asking for more information? What’s the reason for the suggestion? What issue did the person think this could solve?

I’m not talking about questions such as “Would you like some more coffee?”. Go ahead and say “no, thank you” if you don’t feel like coffee.

I’m talking about suggestions from other people, such as “How about launching an ad campaign to boost sales?”; “Shall we arrange a meeting to discuss how we can improve the collaboration with the country teams?” You might immediately say “no” because you have no budget, no time, or for many other valid reasons. However, exploring why this person made the suggestion can bring you valuable insights, perhaps some new ideas, and your teams will feel respected because they are not just brushed off. They might have considered it a very good suggestion to help the business.

And, if you have kids, it’s a good idea to practise the same. If your offspring wants ice cream right before dinner, a straightforward “no” might be well placed. However, if they ask whether they can have a pocket money increase, you might want to sit down and listen to their reasoning. Who knows, maybe they are going to suggest that they will do the dishes every day for that extra dollar?

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