Just Say No

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 714637

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item Just Say No

  • Gary Varga

    SSC Guru

    Points: 82166

    Some people struggle to take no for an answer so at times, as a freelancer, I have had to paint the picture of the most likely outcome if they push forward and evidence it being highlighted.

    I then do as the client asks as the "customer is always right" and highlight the issues, more often than not predicted by many people including myself, as they arise in the most professional manner (no one likes to hear "I told you so").

    The client then makes a call of how they want to proceed which is another opportunity to discuss the most likely outcome.

    Unfortunately, it is a cycle that some people struggle to break out of.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • shoestringdba

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 6206

    It's really not whether you say no, it is how you say no. Three simple rules have nearly always worked for me:

    Be honest.

    Be direct.

    Be professional.

    Doesn't matter if you're simply saying no to a given opportunity or trying to convince a customer not having backups is a Really Bad Idea.

    ____________
    Just my $0.02 from over here in the cheap seats of the peanut gallery - please adjust for inflation and/or your local currency.

  • Gary Varga

    SSC Guru

    Points: 82166

    lshanahan (11/25/2015)


    It's really not whether you say no, it is how you say no. Three simple rules have nearly always worked for me:

    Be honest.

    Be direct.

    Be professional.

    Doesn't matter if you're simply saying no to a given opportunity or trying to convince a customer not having backups is a Really Bad Idea.

    Always, even especially when they are not.

    Gaz

    -- Stop your grinnin' and drop your linen...they're everywhere!!!

  • Aaron N. Cutshall

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 8685

    Early in my career I had difficulty saying no and it nearly wrecked my life both personally and professionally. Afterwards, I've tried to live by the motto that "You work to live, not live to work." Prioritization is the key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

    A simple way of saying no (or not yet) is to give the sense of urgency a reality check. If you tell your supervisor the things that are #1 on your plate at that moment and ask where this new task falls in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes it may get pushed back or it even may replace something else you're working on, but the point is that you are managing your workload instead of your workload managing you.

    It also means that you don't have to adopt someone else's priority and urgency as your own. Often times what may seem like a near catastrophic urgency from the person making the request may be simply a reflection of their own lack of prioritization skills or a near-breaking point of their stress levels. Emergencies sometimes happen and they need to be dealt with appropriately, but most things are not emergencies and can be prioritized accordingly especially in light of a healthy work-life balance.

  • Aaron N. Cutshall

    SSCrazy Eights

    Points: 8685

    Gary Varga (11/25/2015)


    Some people struggle to take no for an answer so at times, as a freelancer, I have had to paint the picture of the most likely outcome if they push forward and evidence it being highlighted.

    I then do as the client asks as the "customer is always right" and highlight the issues, more often than not predicted by many people including myself, as they arise in the most professional manner (no one likes to hear "I told you so").

    The client then makes a call of how they want to proceed which is another opportunity to discuss the most likely outcome.

    Unfortunately, it is a cycle that some people struggle to break out of.

    What I struggle with is how clients (or managers, co-workers, etc.) who refuse such advice turn around and try to lay blame at your feet when things do go awry as predicted. I've had situations where I emphatically state that "It's not a good idea and here's why" yet the client wants me to proceed, and when it does blow up as predicted somehow I'm the one at fault! That's why I heavily document those situations for when it does hit the fan I then have proof of my objections and rationale to support me in the backlash. And the most important proof? Getting all decisions in writing with dated signatures if all possible!

  • Brent Ozar

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2299

    Seems like it gets tougher as your career gets better, too. I get a lot of opportunities laid at my feet - "Here, come speak at our event and we'll take care of everything!" and they're events I *really* want to go to. I would be helping people, I'd be having fun with travel, and there's so many cool places I want to go see. But then next thing you know, my wife has left me and I'm broke, hahaha.

  • akljfhnlaflkj

    SSC Guru

    Points: 76202

    I'm learning this trait, to be able to say no when I think I should. I've managed to at least be successful on the phone. I simply say no, that I'm not interested, and then close with I hope they have a nice day. Then I hang up. That's the key. Do not wait for the other person to respond. Do not wait for their permission for you to hang up. They will immediately start trying to convince you to keep listening to them. But if you say have a nice day and then hang up, it's over. Now if I could only translate that to a face-to-face scenario.

  • Robert Sterbal

    SSChampion

    Points: 10952

    Iwas Bornready (11/25/2015)


    I'm learning this trait, to be able to say no when I think I should. I've managed to at least be successful on the phone. I simply say no, that I'm not interested, and then close with I hope they have a nice day. Then I hang up. That's the key. Do not wait for the other person to respond. Do not wait for their permission for you to hang up. They will immediately start trying to convince you to keep listening to them. But if you say have a nice day and then hang up, it's over. Now if I could only translate that to a face-to-face scenario.

    A "Please put me on your don't contact list" works well as a close as well.

    412-977-3526 call/text

  • silvio.schurig

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 113

    As always, it depends on context. Early on in my Career, I had issues saying no myself. I guess it's the normal Thing. Nobody has reason to challenge the "yes", so that's usually the path of least resistance in a discussion. Plus if you're not that firm in the topic and issues discussed, any follow up discussion to a No might expose you.

    So to me the first step in learning to say No was learning to admit that there are things I don't know. I find that particularly BAs and Requirements Engineers have a hard time with that, which makes it particularly difficult to challenge the requirements from the business side (other issues as well like requirements which are really more BA's assumptions, rather than requirements stated by the business side, but that's a topic for another discussion).

    Personally whenever possible, I still try not to actually say No. Instead I either try to refer to contractual documentation (scope agreements of one form or the other) and make liberal use of the term change request. Depending on the discussion it often helps to ask the other side to explain their request in more detail. Working in Data Integration / DWH / BI I use this technique often in the context of reporting requirements. For example instead of me explaining why a drill Operation is not possible if there is no hierarchy / 1:n relationship or similar, I ask them what they expect to see as a sum at the higher Level if an element has more than one parent.

    But definitely there are situations when nothing but a No will do - like requirements for a report in a Fixed Price Project, listing something along the lines of 1) Customer 2) Product 3) Average Revenue 4) etc. ... the only way to live with that is by being glad you're only subcontracting on that Project ...

  • cdesmarais 49673

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1863

    I hate absolutes, but really, never say no. Always take the extra time to turn the no into an "if." We can do that if we have more time/change priorities/more budget/change requirements/etc. The result is the same, but the level of bad feelings is vastly reduced (never eliminated ;-)) and it keeps the line of communication open to possible solutions that might not have occurred to you.

  • sequelgarrett

    Right there with Babe

    Points: 755

    cdesmarais 49673 (11/25/2015)


    I hate absolutes, but really, never say no. Always take the extra time to turn the no into an "if." We can do that if we have more time/change priorities/more budget/change requirements/etc. The result is the same, but the level of bad feelings is vastly reduced (never eliminated ;-)) and it keeps the line of communication open to possible solutions that might not have occurred to you.

    If you keep the door open on something that shouldn't deserve another minute ever again, you could end up wasting more time on it later down the road. It's better to extinguish all hope with a definite answer if you know it ahead of time.

  • cdesmarais 49673

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1863

    sequelgarrett (11/25/2015)


    cdesmarais 49673 (11/25/2015)


    I hate absolutes, but really, never say no. Always take the extra time to turn the no into an "if." We can do that if we have more time/change priorities/more budget/change requirements/etc. The result is the same, but the level of bad feelings is vastly reduced (never eliminated ;-)) and it keeps the line of communication open to possible solutions that might not have occurred to you.

    If you keep the door open on something that shouldn't deserve another minute ever again, you could end up wasting more time on it later down the road. It's better to extinguish all hope with a definite answer if you know it ahead of time.

    You will waste more time when they go around you and you have to clean up after the fact.

    You will waste more time when they complain to your boss.

    You will waste time that you might have saved with more input into the issue.

    The good news

    You will have lots of time to waste when you are let go/not getting contracts for being a poor team player.

  • sequelgarrett

    Right there with Babe

    Points: 755

    cdesmarais 49673 (11/25/2015)


    sequelgarrett (11/25/2015)


    cdesmarais 49673 (11/25/2015)


    I hate absolutes, but really, never say no. Always take the extra time to turn the no into an "if." We can do that if we have more time/change priorities/more budget/change requirements/etc. The result is the same, but the level of bad feelings is vastly reduced (never eliminated ;-)) and it keeps the line of communication open to possible solutions that might not have occurred to you.

    If you keep the door open on something that shouldn't deserve another minute ever again, you could end up wasting more time on it later down the road. It's better to extinguish all hope with a definite answer if you know it ahead of time.

    You will waste more time when they go around you and you have to clean up after the fact.

    You will waste more time when they complain to your boss.

    You will waste time that you might have saved with more input into the issue.

    The good news

    You will have lots of time to waste when you are let go/not getting contracts for being a poor team player.

    I think you're confusing saying no with being a bad teammate. All I'm saying is if you know the answer ahead of time, then just say it, forget about it, and move on.

    For instance, if somebody asks a SQL dev about an issue with tape backups, it's perfectly acceptable for that dev to say, "Even though I could probably figure it out if I poked around, that's not something I should spend my time on. If our supervisors think I should spend time on it, then have them get in touch with me and we'll work through it together."

  • cdesmarais 49673

    SSCommitted

    Points: 1863

    sequelgarrett (11/25/2015)


    cdesmarais 49673 (11/25/2015)


    sequelgarrett (11/25/2015)


    cdesmarais 49673 (11/25/2015)


    I hate absolutes, but really, never say no. Always take the extra time to turn the no into an "if." We can do that if we have more time/change priorities/more budget/change requirements/etc. The result is the same, but the level of bad feelings is vastly reduced (never eliminated ;-)) and it keeps the line of communication open to possible solutions that might not have occurred to you.

    If you keep the door open on something that shouldn't deserve another minute ever again, you could end up wasting more time on it later down the road. It's better to extinguish all hope with a definite answer if you know it ahead of time.

    You will waste more time when they go around you and you have to clean up after the fact.

    You will waste more time when they complain to your boss.

    You will waste time that you might have saved with more input into the issue.

    The good news

    You will have lots of time to waste when you are let go/not getting contracts for being a poor team player.

    I think you're confusing saying no with being a bad teammate. All I'm saying is if you know the answer ahead of time, then just say it, forget about it, and move on.

    For instance, if somebody asks a SQL dev about an issue with tape backups, it's perfectly acceptable for that dev to say, "Even though I could probably figure it out if I poked around, that's not something I should spend my time on. If our supervisors think I should spend time on it, then have them get in touch with me and we'll work through it together."

    Exactly. If.

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