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004 B2B 14 14/1/08 13:32 Página 1 :: People Management :: Be positive, say :: For years psychologists have been extolling the virtues of positive thinking. All we need is a clear focus on the end result, and the belief and sheer determination to achieve our goals. Positive thinking improves self-confidence, encourages the cost of power. It NO calls on you to use both yes and no at the same time, engag- ing the other in a constructive and respectful confrontation. In contrast to an ordinary ‘no’ that begins with ‘no’ and ends with motivation and has a positive effect on our lives. In fact, with a ‘no,’ a ‘Positive no’ begins with ‘yes’ and ends with ‘yes’. To little positive thinking apparently anything is possible. This deliver a ‘Positive no’, you first uncover your underlying inter- positivity quickly spread into the workplace, where there ests, needs and values and distill them into a powerful Yes! seems to be an abundance of positive change approaches, for Perhaps the biggest mistake we make when we say ‘no’ is to example: solution-focused practice, appreciative inquiry, posi- start from ‘no’. We derive our ‘no’ from what we are against - tive psychology, strength-based management, and positive the others demand or behaviour. A ‘Positive no’ calls on us to deviance. do the exact opposite and base our ‘no’ on what we are for. However, does this emphasis on the positive mean that we The next step is to deliver your ‘no’ clearly and respectfully. have to agree and go along with everything? Thankfully, the Once youve said ‘no’, it is tempting to leave it at that and think gurus say no, and as an expert in this field, I agree. The skill you’ve done your job. But if you stop there, you are overlook- of saying ‘no’ is indispensable. However, saying ‘no’ does not ing the opportunity to propose a positive outcome. It can be imply that you can no longer be constructive, respectful and difficult to receive a ‘no’, so your next challenge is to transform positive. the others reaction from resistance to acceptance. The se- ‘No’ may be the word we need most in todays fast-paced quence of emotions others experience when you tell them ‘no’ society. The world is frantic and hectic. It is easy to become can range from denial to anger to grief. The most important overwhelmed with todays constant demands, whether it is things to keep in mind at this stage are: to control your emo- demands at work or balancing our work and family lives. In tions, listen respectfully, and continue to stand your ground. fact, ‘no’ may be the most powerful word in the language in these times of endless 24-hour communication, time de- The Five Conflict Handling Modes mands, responsibility and general commitments. At the same time, it can be the most destructive word in the language, de- The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument is designed structive to relationships – both personally and professionally. to assess an individual’s behaviour in conflict situations. These For at the heart of every destructive conflict or war it is the are situations where the concerns of two people appear to be word ‘no’ that people are hurling at each other. Because it can incompatible. In such situations people’s behaviour moves be so destructive, ‘no’ is the word that is hardest for us to say. along two basic dimensions: assertiveness, the extent to which But, if we can learn how to say it gracefully and positively, it the individual attempts to satisfy his own concerns and cooper- will help transform our personal and work lives. ativeness, the extent to which the individual attempts to satisfy The investor Warren Buffet once confided that the secret to the other person’s concerns. Within these two basic dimensions creating his fortune lay in his ability to say ‘no’. He said: "I sit of behaviour there are five specific methods of dealing with there all day and look at investment proposals. I say no, no, conflicts: Competing, accommodating, avoiding, collaborating no, no, no, no - until I see one that is exactly what I am look- and compromising. A ‘Positive no’ sequence aims to move ing for, and then I say yes. All I have to do is say yes a few away from an either-or scenario by breaking the power versus times in my life and Ive made my fortune." To those in the relationship cycle. Most people accommodate and avoid, yet by know, saying ‘no’ is at least as important as saying ‘yes’. Over being firm yet respectful, many people’s reactions are not what the years, you need to develop a simple and elegant way of you expect. By collaborating and compromising it is possible to saying ‘no’ gracefully. use your power and at the same time pre- serve your relationship - that is the heart The YES!-No-Yes? Sequence of what it means to say a ‘Positive No’. by Robin Schattefor A ‘Positive no’ requires you to challenge the common as- Schatte for Sale sumption that either you can use power to get what you want, www.schatteforsale.com at the cost of relationship, or you can use the relationship, at Tel: 952 553 836. :: 14 • • •