Saying no is like walking on ice and watching a movie in your head. The current podcast episode will make you a skater as well as director by showing how to create your own scenes.

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Saying no creates discomfort, to the point that in some cultures it is unacceptable to say no which adds complexity, especially with a boss. When a request is made we create our opening scene, think someone has been murdered and you are standing there with the gun. The sub plot is how the other people will react and what they will think of you. Fixing your movie involves acknowledging concern regarding the need despite your lack of desire to help.

So first let’s stop the movie and look at a few editing techniques:

Show rather than tell
If the request is an invite you can indicate how honored you are that they thought of you, show all the projects you’re working on, and indicate you simply don’t have the time right now. You have addressed their need and explained why it can’t be accommodated.

Power modeling
When your boss asks you to take on one more task and you are already overwhelmed, go back to show and tell pointing out the timelines for the things you are currently working on and then ask him/her to model priorities. This way you have turned the tables and are asking permission to let something be passed on to someone else or moved down the list in terms of importance. Again, you’ve addressed their need and asked them to make a choice about what is important and never used the word “no”.

Offer alternatives
You’re asked to do something you think will not work. Address the need with “I can see where you are going with that but have you thought about trying this?” You’ve gently moved the request over to brainstorming and the pressure is now on them to say yes or no. The best outcome is you begin collaborating to arrive at a solution that takes the pressure off both of you.

Use the team player card
There is always that situation where you feel your supervisor or someone in the office is taking advantage and you have reached a breaking point. Rather than a long sigh and saying no, point out that for the last five weeks you were the one who got up early to get donuts for the meeting. You didn’t mind doing it to help the team, but could they pick someone else this time. This response points out your sacrifice for the cause and highlights what you gave up to make that sacrifice.

Saying no does not prevent saying yes
Once you’ve become comfortable saying no that should not stop you saying yes. The reality is that there are going to be situations where you have to do something you don’t like or want to do. However, if the person making the request knows there is the possibility of a no they will at least think before making a request.

More scenes are included in the podcast to help with your movie. You’re now back on the ice, only this time you have skates and took a few lessons to make those jumps the judges like. The scene playing in your head also matches what you are doing on the ice. I see a lot of 10’s in your future.

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