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As we prove ourselves to be hard-working and competent people, we get more and more responsibilities and opportunities. The same thing happens with companies getting more and more demand for their services.
The problems arise when, at some point in time, we are forced by the limits of our time and resources to give up on something. Either we decide what that will be, or our circumstances will decide for us.
That is why companies have entire teams of people working to evaluate opportunities and demands coming their way, and politely but firmly saying “No” to those that don’t fit their big picture.
The goal of this presentation is to help you do the same!
Have you ever found yourself
facing so many different
opportunities and paths you
didn’t know which way to go?
Have you ever found yourself
burdened by demands of people
surrounding you but unable to say
Have you ever been so
unbelievably busy that you
lost that ‘me’ time you used
“The difference between
successful people and
really successful people is
that really successful
people say no to almost
- Warren Buffett, business
magnate, investor and
By setting priorities for different aspect of
our lives, we are getting the ultimate metrics
for evaluating different alternatives we are
By saying “No” to
we are making sure
that we won’t pass up
more important ones,
ones that are better
aligned with our long-
term goals, due to the
fact that we are
already juggling too
“You can talk all you want about
having a clear purpose and strategy
for your life, but ultimately this
means nothing if you are not
investing the resources you have in
a way that is consistent with your
strategy. In the end, a strategy is
nothing but good intentions unless
it's effectively implemented.”
- Clayton Christensen, HBS professor
and disruptive innovator
Think of yourself as of a business you are managing. You have your goals
and your resources, and you are ultimately working towards your survival,
growth and development. On your path, you will have to make some difficult
choices of where to invest those resources.
Use the same evaluation method companies are using when making
decisions where to invest their resources – cost-benefit analysis - by
estimating expected benefits and expected costs of each and every
Expected costs include time
and energy we have invested,
as well as opportunity cost -
cost of not being able to invest
in another alternative.
Expected benefits are advantages
we are making toward achieving
In order to decide for an alternative,
expected benefits must be greater
than expected costs.
Ignore sunk costs!
It can be very hard to decide to give up on
something we have invested so much time and
effort into; something that was our brain child;
something that we have grown to love.
But, if it is not working out, no matter how much
we have invested of ourselves in it, the right this
is to say is: “No (more)”.
Some of them can be solved by careful preparation of respectful and brief responses
we can use as a template for refusing an opportunity or request.
There are many difficulties when it comes to actually saying “No” to
By thanking the person for thinking of us or
trusting our capabilities, we are letting them
know that we are refusing the request, not
them, and that we are open for future
Or even a coffee next week.
It is better to give a reason for refusal than to leave people wondering. It is
very important for that refusal to be straightforward and sincere.
By giving lightweight reasons we are actually weakening our “No” and
sometimes even disrespecting the other person.
Always provide a brief
Thank you for thinking of me and providing me with this opportunity! It sounds
really ____________ and I would love to know more about it.
Unfortunately, I am not able to become a part of your project due to
If there is anything else I can help you with please let me know.
“The lesson I learned from this is that it’s
easier to hold to your principles 100% of
the time than it is to hold to them 98% of
the time. If you give in to ‘Just This Once’,
based on a marginal cost analysis, as
some of my former classmates have done,
you’ll regret where you end up. You’ve
got to define for yourself what you stand
for and draw the line in a safe place.”
- Clayton Christensen, HBS professor and
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