Monday, August 14, 2017

"No" is not a bad word

I just read yet another post about how to sugarcoat a "no."  The posts are endless with advice: use positive language; watch for your own negative reactions; delegate instead of outright refusal.... 

"No" is a useful word; there's nothing wrong with it. Just say "No;" it is okay!

"No" is as ubiquitous as "um.." The real issue is that we are conditioned to think of "no" as meaning "maybe"  because we often use the word to buy time, create space and consider options both at work and while parenting. 

Knowing that folks won't take a straight 'no' as seriously as I'm offering it, here's how I annoy people into going to ask someone else.

Alternate scenarios for when "no" doesn't work @work:

"Flattered that you think you need my help! What exactly do you believe I can contribute? Or does this just need an immediate warm body?"  (I didn't say no, I just made it harder for them to dump and run. Unless they can answer the question and then I know I'm genuinely needed)

"That sounds like something I don't know how to do. Will you be sitting with me while I do it?" (Same as above and I'm ok with looking out of my depth some times)

"Excellent. I can do that in about 3 weeks. If you need it faster, you might have to find someone else?" (Either I'm the right person to do it or they just need a warm body...)

"Sure, I can do that. X and X will go on hold till I'm done. Let me know if we have sign off to delay before I start?" (Seriously, this works)

"No. I appreciate your need, I really do. I am not the right person/ timing is poor / etc." (Some days one just says "no"... without a but...)

Any other good ideas out there?

PS> For a great perspective on how to use the word "no" effectively, start with Barbara Coloroso and her take on parenting with the word "no."

Monday, July 31, 2017

To discuss in a mentoring session

A good mentoring session can take the conversation past the immediate concerns and move it into longer term goals and awareness.

Topics to raise:

  • "Ins and Outs" of industries or organizations that might be worth exploring for networking or partnership reasons
  • Locating other folks in other industries or organizations with whom you could have a tea and build your community
  • ‘Safe places’ to explore a dream or plan - with mapping a direct path being secondary to discussing fit and purpose
  • Sharing guidance, advice and encouragement (and the occasional smack to the head as I required this week - thanks Terri!) for career, balancing work and personal, being a woman in the work force, etc.
  • Practice “soft/communication skills” - listening, questioning, offering feedback, introductions, etc.
  • Turn the tables and discuss a mentor's current challenge
  • Research and how it might affect our work -  Edelmans Trust Barometer report, a Gartner report etc... or even a book "Getting to Yes" or "Break Your Own Rules"

Monday, July 24, 2017

Providing a context

The management of most things is about providing a context - a report, a framework, principles, etc.

We need context or we will fill that void with our own stories. The "why" of decisions and the "how" of integrating the decision (or its consequence) is management.

That makes looking at change - personal or project - simpler. Sometimes the 'what' - the change itself - is out of our control. A context may not have us like it /agree with it any more than we already do but it will help us understand and accept / incorporate / act on it.

  • If a parent changes a curfew, the teen is liable to make up their own reasons for the new requirement unless the context for the decision is shared.
  • If a budget total seems inconsistent month to month, a report provides context for the variance.
  • If new technology impacts a job, the principles its application will support adoption.

With context, a conversation can be held.

To manage, don't withhold context. To mentor, show how to create context by offering frameworks yourself.