The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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“Just say ‘No’” isn’t as simple as it seems.

Undoubted you’ve heard the advice “Just Say No” to things when you’re feeling overwhelmed.  In actuality, saying “no” to life and its opportunities is a resistive, defensive and negative attitude producing additional stress.  This stress management presentation shares fun, practical and life-changing tips on ways to say “YES” to things — on your own terms.

Visualize this scenario:  You’re a very busy mom or dad, a corporate manager, spouse and you raise funds for your community’s charity.  You receive daily requests from children, employees, spouse, and charity organizations.  You not only have daily demands but daily desires in not only those areas, but your health and finances.

Another client’s complaint is: I don’t have a problem with assessing a task, etc.  My problem is that I

Yes

have big ideas and there’s just too many that I’m working on.  Note:  there is a queue and I do prioritize.   I guess I am impatient or realize the time is opportune and thus want to change priorities and continue with projects and add others – they are all viable and provide revenue.   These are my own pressures created by myself.


FYI: I have a workshop that covers the three T’s to saying “YES” on your own term in detail.   With these 3 T’s, you will be able to navigate through various scenarios with ease and professionalism.   Please contact me if you are interested in more information about these workshops.

Conventional wisdom suggests taking control of your list and to start saying “NO” to things.  But, saying “No” to things is dodging the ball. Spending time and energy dodging and evading keeps you in the same place.  Just like the game “dodgeball”, the more you dodge the more you attract balls to evade.   It doesn’t really make time, space or energy for other things.   You haven’t really accomplished much in that amount of time.  You’ve just spent the time saying “NO” to more things.

“No” is a defensive tactic.  It is a strategy fueled by the attitude of scarcity, of “not enoughness”, of lack.   There’s not enough time, there’s not enough me, I can’t do it all, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.   and “I Can’t” is a defeatist attitude.  So – in essences, we spending time and energy “creating a defeat”.  In my mind,  that doesn’t make much sense.

A more beneficial attitude is one of “abundance”, I am capable, there is enough time for everything that matters.  This can be done.  It may be a lot to do, but it is doable.  I have an abundance of time, talent and resources at my disposal.  And it doesn’t have to be done all at once or all by me.

“Yes” on your own terms:

I like the idea of saying “yes” under your own terms.   Everything that crosses our paths “normally” has value.  I’m not a big supporter of “saying no” to things JUST because you feel that you don’t have time.  If those items do not support your overall goals or paths — definitely hand it off to someone that it’s more of a match to.   But there are also techniques on “how to have our cake and eat it too”.  There are ways to say “yes” — by perhaps streamlining the task, delegating, delaying and combining with something else, or tuning into the pure “essence” — the actual “why I would do this/value” versus the explicit task.  In my opinion — the important thing is to accomplish the “essence” or to figure out the “value” of the thing being done (or asked of you).   Often times the “essence” can be done with a lot less effort and time — if you don’t focus on a specific task or action item — but on the “real value” or the why your wanting the results that your trying to accomplish.

Although this isn’t rocket science, it does take some practice to become comfortable saying “yes” in this way.   Imagine some of the following scenes and create some on your own.   Practicing your “Yes” responses to your typical scenarios will help you proactively prepare for them.  Some examples are below.

Some script dialogue to help prepare for various scenes:

  1. Yes – I would love to help you on this.   I want to give you the time and attention that this really deserves.   Let me check my calendar.  Yes – I have an hour over lunch next Wednesday.  Is an hour enough time to brainstorm on this?
  2. Yes – I realize that you’ve been trying to get connect with me on that fundraiser matter.  I am interested.  I’m on my way to another meeting – but we’ll both be at Saturday’s soccer game.  Let’s commit to sitting next to each other and discuss it then.
  3. Yes – I see that this is important to you.  While this doesn’t quite fit in my individual development goals, current project lists or my target client base, I may know someone that is a perfect match for this.  Joanne Smith is working on a similar profile.  I think her project is a better match for your idea and I know her very well.  Her number is xxx-xxxx.  In fact, she will be at a general meeting on Thursday at 8:00am at Bear Rock Café.  If you attend that meeting, I can introduce you to her at that time.
  4. Yes – I can see that you’re frustrated by this situation.  I do regret the procedures we have to follow around here.  I know they may come off as ridiculous for those lucky enough not to have to work in this type of industry every day.  Is there a particular the restrictions or policies that you have a question before we go any further?  My overall intention is to make you a happy customer – even if it’s not at my store. I can see by your specifications that our product is not a good match for you.  I think you’ll be much happier with this manufacturer.   Let me goggle their contact information for you.
  5. Yes – that is a great project for you.  I recommend your next step to work up a business proposal with marketing trends and income/expense forecasting.  Mary Jane is great at mentoring folks that are setting up their own project plans.  She mentioned that her last protégé is off starting their own business.  And she is looking for a new mentoring opportunity.   If you want, I can setup a meeting between the two of you – see if you guys hit it off.
  6. Yes – boss, I can do this.  Let me make sure I understand your expectations.  You have me already working on these other 4 projects.  Help me understand the right priority on this list. Where does this new request fit?  Before this one?  Ah – as soon as possible.  Okay –  to me, as soon as possible means, completing my current task (which you wanted done by Thursday).  Is that your understanding as well?  Ah – okay – you want me to stop all work on my current task and do this instead. Great – placing this task here will push the completion date on this one out until next Wednesday.   Is this okay with the other stakeholders of this project or did you want to assign it to someone else?
  7. Yes, Joe – I agree with you that someone does need to meet with your employee regarding his progress on the website.  I’ve gotten several complaints from my crew that Randy hasn’t been responsive to their requests.  I’ve also tried to contact him myself.  But he has not been responsive to my emails or telephone messages.  Can you assign someone from your team that has some influence over him to find out what’s going on?  OR can you assign someone else from your team to fulfill that part of the contract?
  8. It’s 4:30pm and the boss just handed you something to look at and says to you, “Here’s something to look at.  Have a good weekend”.  “Great!  I look forward to reviewing it on Monday.  You have a great weekend as well. “    Just because the boss hands something to you on Friday at 4:30pm doesn’t always mean he needs it done before you leave.  It could just mean that he wanted off “his desk” before the weekend — to make himself feel free and have a relaxing weekend.  Don’t assume.  And if you are going to assume – assume the benefit of the doubt to other.

Conclusion

We all get interrupted and distracted.  Interruptions will constantly flow our way.  Saying “no” to them is like trying to dodge them in a quick flowing stream.  When we spend time and energy dodging something, we are typically spending much energy to stand in the same area place.  Instead, take advantage of the interruption.  Hop onto the interruptions that are going your way, ride it for a little while until it goes off course, and then hop on the next one, next one, next one – until you’ve accomplished your current destination.  Treat the interruption as a wave propelling you forward to your next adventure.

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About the Author

Laura is a Corporate Exit Strategist for the Blooming Entrepreneur. She is a certified business and personal life coach, specializing in time management skills, project management training and work/life balance strategies. She has been in the software and testing industry for over 20 years. She’s worked with such companies as IBM, Ericsson, Staples, Fidelity Investments and Sogeti in various client advocacy and project management roles. The techniques she uses in her business coaching and client advocacy work saved these companies both time and money, which resulted in on-time, quality product delivery with higher client satisfaction. Laura now uses her client focus, project, quality and people management skills in her personal life coaching career. As a personal life coach, she helps people transform their life by integrating their goals and dreams into their everyday lives. Laura uses creative and practical tools to help her clients realize what really matters to them. She helps others to easily transition into their next chapter whether it’s the next ladder of success within their corporate environment or into the entrepreneurial playground. I am not a fan of choosing to act in spite of fear. Rather, together we will collaborate toward a plan of inspired action. We will develop a plan together that you feel confident and excited about. For us, Taking The Leap will be magical, exhilarating and natural. If you are eager to take that next logical step but are unsure what it is signup for the Corporate Exit Strategy Coaching group. We have books, tapes, training materials, twice-monthly group coaching events, 3-day workshops, and individual coaching sessions to help you on your way toward your freedom and prosperity.
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