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How to stop you from being an impulsive Yes-man/woman

Do you want to hear the world's easiest way to hit a wall without passing the Prozac-jar? That is to say “yes” to every single person who wants you to do things for them or with them. Some people just can't say no. They are afraid of losing their job, afraid of making others disappointed and afraid of being confronted in different ways because of the word “no”. The scary thing here is that those who say yes all the time will be less respected by others. If you have a customer that gets used to the fact that it's OK to call you late at night or during weekends to get the job done, he/she'll do it. If you say yes to anyone who wants you to do things, there is only one loser and it will eventually be you because all the pressure will affect you privately in the end.

To solve this problem (I have it too), you need to become your own boss. For example, if you are already working on a plan to resolve something or already have your hands full with a task, you need to say so. My God, it's your health we're talking about here!
And since you are your own boss and the boss cares about your health, the boss orders you to say no. Did that sound corny? Yes, a little, but you have to understand that other people will always want your time for different things and it's your job to make sure that the time you spend is good for you, too. Did you hear that? It must be good for you too. Sometimes you have to tell little white lies. It may not be possible to tell a large customer that you don't have time because chances are that they will hire someone else instead. The challenge is to balance this and maybe even use a white lie sometimes to maintain this delicate balance.
So when someone suggests that you do something that you really don't have time to do, try this:

- “I'm sorry, but I'm in the middle of several other projects right now.”
If you let people know that you have other things going on, you don't need any other excuses. That will also let people know you're actually so good at what you do, that other customers have already booked you.

- “I'm not sure that this particular job suits my focus”.
You take responsibility and say the results that you can deliver may not be as good as you want everything you do to be.

- “I hate to divide attention between multiple projects.”
Again you show responsibility.

- “I have another commitment that must be completed first.”
Maybe you just need time for yourself - or something else that you don't want to tell your clients about.

- “I have no experience with this”.
You suggest that they use a person who may be better qualified.

- “You don't need me, you can handle this perfectly well yourself.”
People ask for help because they are uncertain of their own skills. It may be enough for you to help them with some advice and support.

- “I need to spend more time with my family right now”.
In other words, you don't want to work overtime now.

- “I need to spend more time at work right now”.
This is what you answer when the teacher at your kid's school needs someone to take responsibility for organizing a field trip at a teacher-parents meeting.

- “I need to spend some more time on myself right now.”
It's OK to be selfish sometimes.

- “I have a lot now and I'd rather turn you down than do a poor job.”
Responsibility again.

- “I'd rather handle a different part of the job”.
Showing commitment, but you also say that the very thing you are asked to do doesn’t really suit your agenda right now.

- “I know another person who can do the job”.
You offer a different solution.

- “No”.
Sometimes it's actually OK to just say no.

- “Not right now, but I can do it later”.
Shows your willingness, but also your lack of time right now.

- “Sorry, something very important that I have to take care of suddenly came up quite unexpectedly”.
One way to avoid an assignment that doesn't benefit your goals without having to explain whatever they may be.

- “Interesting, so you think I should drop the important project I'm working with now?”
This is a great way to hand over the responsibility to the person who wants you to do something that isn't meaningful. It will be their responsibility instead of yours.

- “Can I give you an answer tomorrow?”
A great way for those who have a hard time saying no is just to get some more time to consider the offer. Good for you who is an impulsive Yes-man/woman. Those who want something, often flatter and seduce with words about how great it would be if you did this (it's mostly about things that you don't benefit from at all). If you feel that it's hard to resist the flattery, it's always good to procrastinate a decision by stalling the issue with a question like this. To say that you'll think about it, gives you valuable time to cool off.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.