Today I want to share with you how you can say no, by actually saying yes.
There are times when having very clear boundaries and saying no to someone is important. And rather than just saying “NO, I’m not going to do that,” I’m going to give you a tool that I call the magic of three yeses.
Rather than saying, “no, I’m not going to do that,” which is my east coast version way of communicating, I’m going to give you the west coast version. What I’m going to say is, “you know, that’s actually a really good idea and yes I should be responsible for it. So there are three ways that I can get that done.” Here comes the three yeses.
The first way is I can act as an advisor. As an advisor I can give about two hours a week to make sure the project is successful and I can start that right away.
The second option is for me not to be an advisor but to take more of an active role; a co-lead of the project. I wouldn’t be able to start that however for six weeks, and the amount of time I would have available is about seven hours a week.
The third option is if we wait six months I can be the project sponsor and the champion and run it from start to finish. I won’t be able to do that for six months though.
Once you explain the three options to the person you ask one simple question, “which option do you think would work best for you?”
Ladies and gentlemen, you didn’t say no, you said “yes, good idea,” you affirmed them, you gave them three options and then you asked them which would work best for them. The magic of the three yeses is really, really powerful. It gives three options; people love to be able to choose from options, and you’re also giving options based on the priorities you have, the time required and the scope of the project.
If you do this you are going to have people seeing you as supportive, really helpful, and providing options. Doing so will make you much more successful, much more effective, and you’ll have a whole lot more influence.