Say Yes to Saying No

I am pretty good at saying no.

But that wasn’t always the case. I used to say yes quite a bit when I worked in the PR field. I would say yes to cover a meeting in Austin. Yes to covering a conference call with clients from San Francisco. Yes to going on not one, but two press tours for co-workers who were expecting and couldn’t travel – and these were not even my accounts! It’s not that I liked to travel – I don’t like traveling for business; you are always “on” and have very little down time. And I really like my “me” time. It’s not like you really get to see the sites of a city – you fly in, go to the hotel or meeting, dinner (maybe), sleep and then fly out. But, I saw it as being part of the team and part of my job.

I said yes, but at a cost. I was gone more than I was home. I missed my husband, my family, my friends and co-workers. I was the go-to gal, but my get up and go started to putter out. I finally realized I was traveling too much when I sat down and looked at my calendar. I really was gone more than I was home. I wished I had said no more often; I missed too much.

That’s when I became selective about my yes’s and liberal with my no’s. If I really wasn’t needed on a trip, or if it could be accomplished via teleconference, then I said no. I tried to work out details in email form and in report form rather than hop on a plane. I invited clients to come to me – and of course ‘see our facility and meet the rest of the team’. But once the client dinner was over, I could go home to my family and my own bed!

In business, I do understand that nothing takes the place of face-to-face meetings, but realistically, some things can get taken care of with a phone call, email, or teleconference. The real upside is that the clients realized their expenses went down, and the quality of work remained high. Creatively saying no by offering alternatives turned out to be a big win/win. Once I learned that, my life, and saying no, became way easier.