Master the Art of Saying No to Reduce Distractions

Are you getting a lot of requests lately, responding to demands and emergencies others have on you? As a result, we can’t get our project done.

Are you holding yourself accountable for other people’s responsibilities, especially if they asked for a favor?

If so, how’s that affecting your work performance in your business?

If that really disturbs your work, putting off fires all day long, then you really have to do something about it, because your business is in the “danger zone.”

If you can’t fully focus on your work, or if you can’t get anything done as a result of fulfilling requests, demands and favors, you are not going to get your project done.

Master the Art of Saying No to Reduce Distractions

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So Why do We Respond to Requests We do not Feel Comfortable Fulfilling?

Here are some main reasons why we respond to requests we do not like or finding it hard to say no:

  1. Fear of Conflict – We are usually afraid that the person might get angry at us, so we try to please them all the time, regardless if this is going to serve us any good.
  2. Afraid of Being Rude – That’s the opposite of reason #1. Simply we do not want to lose the relationship with those people who are giving us counter-productive requests. We do not want for people to take “no” as a sign of rejection, thus losing valuable connections and relationships as a result.
  3. Unwillingness for Making Others to Look Bad – If we say no to them, they are going to feel bad as a result of our denial. That’s why we do not want to offend them by saying no to counter-productive requests.
  4. You Want to be of Help (Proactively Trying to Show that You are not a Selfish Person) - You want to help as many people as possible in every possible way. You try to be always at service to others, because this fulfills you emotionally. However, at the end of the day, there’s usually no energy and time left for doing the things that can benefit you personally: like working on your business.
  5. Opportunity Cost – If we say no, we fear that a particular opportunity will be lost forever. It is like “closing doors” for yourself when you ‘say no’ to a particular person or a deal.
  6. It is Going to Make You Feel Bad – You are not going to like when you deny a request from another person, especially from a friend or family.

You do not like getting stressed out as a result of saying no, that’s why we find it hard to ‘say no’ in order to avoid that temptation.

Often, when we say no, we find it hard to work or concentrate, because we get obsessed and feel bad for saying no in the first place.

If you agree with any of those 4 reasons, then I am with you and you should keep reading :-]

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What is the Underlying Factor for Having Those Particular Reasons that are Holding You Back from Saying No?

Well, most of those reasons above are simply misinterpretations and irrational fantasies we have, and often they have nothing to do with our “real life” social interactions.

We are simply imagining scenarios of “what might happen” as a result of ‘saying no,’ but this does not mean it is going to really happen.

In fact, 95% of the time what we are concerned or worry about – never happens.

There’s nothing wrong with saying no, because if you do, simply you are sending a message that you VALUE your time and you have things to do or priorities in place.

The reason why most people make their priorities yours is because they have no clue what you are trying to accomplish or get rid of, in order to get the results you want.

One of the first attempts to resolve this is to explain what you are trying to do so that they know it is not ok to bother you at certain times (when you work).

If they insist and still continue to “sell demands” on you, and hold you accountable for what they should be doing, then you need something else.

Often, when someone says to you to do something for them, they are trying to “manipulate you” to do it for them, because they can’t do it, or because you can do it better than anyone else. I used the word, “manipulate” for a reason.

Often, they do not put much thought about doing it themselves, and always call on someone to do it for them. That’s because they are almost NEVER used to do it themselves. That’s how they do things in life.

They are simply “playing needy,” and if they do not get what they want, they turn things into drama, complaining and bitching around as a result.

There are few exceptions to this, but you have to understand the nature of this phenomenon, in order to prevent it from affecting your performance, without feeling guilty or wondering about it.

In any case, it is a form of distraction you want to get rid of.

When an emotional conflict arises, from not fulfilling certain requests, it is usually temporary. Eventually, everybody falls back to old patterns, routines and train of thought.

It is might “appear” as a big deal now, but in 10 minutes it is usually smaller than a fly. People tend to make big deals of small details.

However, They Have to Understand that When You Work, You are not Up to Requests

Even if you already planned to work at a certain time, and they unexpectedly come to you at the last moment that’s going to send you off track, there are different things you can do:

  1. Make them feel guilty for interrupting you. You have to be that person who makes the demands, not other people. That’s key to great performance. There is some power when people make demands to somebody else, that’s why you want to be the person who gives the demands and others follow them. Making demands is a position of power. Get used to it. At the end of the day, it is not about whether or not you should ‘say no’ to that person, but it is about HOW you ‘say no’ to them, so they can retreat and leave you alone without hurt feelings. Here’s my secret weapon:
  2. Silent power. This is a concept that I’ve learned from Stuard Wilde, but I have a personal twist on it. When someone comes to my office without notice or unexpectedly, trying to tell me something, I pretend that I do not listen to them, so they start to feel awkward about their presence with you. They feel guilty for bothering you, because you seem busy, doing things without paying attention to them. If happens that you have to answer a simple question, make sure you do it in the shortest possible way, without opening a conversation and without making an eye contact to them. The best way to do this is by giving DIRECT answers. For example:

    Unexpected visitor: Have you seen my paperwork for tomorrow?
    You: No! (Without making eye contact, and keep doing your work without paying much attention to them).

    Unexpected visitor: Have you watched that movie yesterday?
    You: (Do not say anything, since the question can be answered with a body language). Just keep a “silent mode” as much as possible while they are present with you.

    Let me clarify, you are NOT being rude here, you are simply valuing your time, and it sends the message that you have priorities and things to do at the moment. This has 95% success rate, and they leave you alone at the time you are working, even if they come unexpectedly. When you finish you work, come back to them and let them know that you were busy, but do not apologize. Tell them that you were absorbed by the work, and then ask why they came to you in a very natural way. You do not want to convey the message of “I am sorry for not paying attention to you while I was working…” This is how you “teach them” to not bother you at the time you are working. It is a silent way of saying, “hey I am busy, please come back to me when you get a chance.” If it is not that important, they’ll leave you alone without saying a word or even without getting upset at you, because they already feel awkward.

  3. Answer with an objection. When someone comes to you and asks you to do something, simply say, “Hmm, let me think about it first.” In marketing, this is a form of objection. This is how you tell them that you are not interested to fulfill that request at the moment. It is a subtle way of saying “no,” instead of being direct. When you say, “I’ll keep that in mind, but not interested at the moment” or “I’ll think about it,” you are going to shorten the conversation. This is what you want, since you have to finish off your work.
  4. Give alternatives. You simply convey the message of “I am not the best person to fulfill this request, simply because…” and give them different reasons why they should look for another person. If they insist, which happens often, refer to them to see a specific person who might help them with that particular request. You are simply saying, “I am not available right now, go and look at this person…” Word of caution: You do not want to lie here, just for the sake of having them to leave you alone. You have to be honest, and if you are the best person for the job, but somehow you have more important things to do, just tell them that you’ll think about it first, before you actually decide if you are going to do it. If they respect your time and yourself, they’ll give you the time to decide and actually leave you alone.
  5. Partial commitments. If they ask you for something that would take 5 hours to get it done, you may want to take the smallest piece (less demanding part) of their request that might take only 10 minutes to get it done, instead of getting involved 5 hours of work that might send you off track completely for the entire day.
  6. Re-schedule. Even if someone comes to you unexpectedly while you are working, simply ask them to come at a specific time “X” when you are going to be more available. Put it on a note so that they see you markup the time you are going to see each other. If you do not like to see that person for today, simply do not use this method, since you HAVE to keep your promises, or you would be interrupted by that person regularly, because you do not “walk the talk.” However, you may ask them to come next week, next day, or whatever is good for you. You do not want to keep them for long. When they appear, change the topic and get to the point to set the next visit right away, without getting into a conversation with them. When both of you reach an agreement, they’ll leave you alone.
  7. Inability. When you convey the message that “you are not capable of fulfilling that request” or “you are going to do a bad job at it if you do it,” is a way of ‘saying no’ in an indirect way. Others might not like for the demand to get done poorly. If they believe that you are the perfect candidate to handle that request or demand, tell them of past failures doing similar tasks or activities like this they ARE NOT aware of. The reason why they come to you in the first place is the assumption that you can help them out, but if you get them understand you are simply going to waste their time if you do it, the chances of asking you again are going to decrease dramatically.

The Bottom Line is…

The key to excellent performance comes when you are focused at your work with lesser or no interruptions, and saying no is one way or another it is going to set the stage of more productive time to get the job done.

There you have it, six different ways to say no to people without feeling guilty or without having others to feel bad about your decisions.

Chris Diamond
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Chris Diamond
Bestselling Author, Serial Entrepreneur, Lecturer
Subjects of Expertise: Time Management, Personal Productivity, E-Book Publishing
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Chris Diamond
Bestselling Author
Serial Entrepreneur

Subjects of Expertise

Time Management
Personal Productivity
E-Book Publishing

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