Every time I think of ‘Yes Girls’ I think of Bride Wars when Anne Hathaway’s character gets tricked into taking over all of her fellow teacher’s extra-circular duties. The teacher acts as though she is the one who is doing the favour for Anne. I am sure if you have seen this movie, you remember this cringe-wrothy character. We have definitely all had that co-worker that just never pulls their own weight and is utterly clueless about their lack of contribution.
Career-wise being a ‘Yes Girl’, is probably exactly what your employer is looking for. “Yes, I’ll stay late”, “Yes, I will finish the project by today”, “Yes, I can come in early.”, the list goes on and can become exhausting. Killing yourself to satisfy your employer is definitely not healthy or productive. Especially when you are sacrificing your own well-being to meet completely unattainable deadlines. Statistically speaking, people tend to be drawn to positive, optimistic people, so having a can-do attitude is beneficial to your career, however, learning to say yes when you are really saying no is a skill that everyone should learn.
Managing expectations is quite possibly one of my favourite topics to write about because it is a very essential skill. Next time someone asks you to complete a project be sure to lay down the framework.
“Wow, that is such an awesome idea. Lets see how much time that will take and how much it will cost.“
Rationalizing the workload, clearing laying out what is involved and outlining the cost, is the best way to measure how invested your employer is in projects and determine if they are truly worth your time. Sometimes projects are presented without taking into consideration the effort required. Don’t be afraid to suggest extending deadlines or re-distributing responsibilities to accommodate new projects.
Leading with a compliment, throwing in the feedback and then ending with a compliment is another good way of faking a ‘Yes’. Find a way to take suggestions and make your superior or co-worker feel like it was their idea all along. For example:
“thank you so much for sending me the feedback on the _______. I loved your comment on ________. We are going to do ___________ because you gave us such good ideas.”
The best ideas are occasionally born off of someone else’s not so great idea.
Offer Alternatives Instead of Saying No
This is my own personal pet peeve when you ask someone to do something and they say’ ‘no’ full stop. I probably spend about 30 percent of my day talking to people who say they aren’t able to do things. I have to find a way to explain how it will benefits them, sell them on my idea and then suggest how they may be able to complete the task. It is extremely exhausting! This is why I truly love, when I ask someone to do something and they say “I really wanted this to work, but I thought about it and I think in order to achieve this, we have to do it this way.” It makes my life so much easier. These are the people that you want to work with in the future and keep around.
When to Say No
Never! Just kidding, I am sure there are many situations you could probably say no to. The one recommendation I have is not to lead with no. Try to problem solve and think on your feet before you send out a no. Be clear about the limitations. A stand-alone no is always a bad idea. I am sure you will notice over time that the people that generally say no, are the people who would rather not work with. Try to be enjoyable to collaborate with and it should be beneficial to your career down the road.