Getting Comfortable With “NO”string(33) "Getting Comfortable With “NO”"

For business networking success, you need to build deep relationships; learn how to help people; and support your professional connections in some way. However sometimes, just sometimes, you need to say “no” to requests that are made of you.

It’s important to recognize when someone’s opportunity is your distraction. That begins by knowing your own personal or professional mission. Typically, these are situations where their project is not on mission for, nor compatible with, your business or your life. In these situations, you need to learn how to say no. Remember, the word “no” can be a one-word sentence. It’s just not a sentence that I like to use very often; and I think there are a fair number of people that feel the same way.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally good with saying “no” to people when it is necessary. The secret is how to get comfortable saying “no” and doing it without sounding like you don’t care.

Six Ways to Say “No”

I personally have found that these suggestions are very effective when they are used with respect and sincerity.

I don’t do that.
Sometimes the request and the response I give are very simple.  For example, when someone tries to get me to have a piece of cake or pie – I simply say “thanks, but I don’t eat processed sugar.” When they say something like, “oh, just a bite,” I am comfortable telling them they should feel free to have my bite because I don’t eat sugar.

If I said yes, I’d let you down.
An effective way to tell someone “no” is to tell them that you believe you would let them down if you did what they are asking. It might be because you don’t have the bandwidth, the knowledge, or the expertise to do fulfill their request. In any case, you’re not the person to help make this idea a success and you don’t want to disappoint them.

Refer them to someone more qualified.
When I say “no” to someone, I usually try to refer them to someone else who is more suited or qualified to help them. I like to refer them to someone whose mission is more aligned with the project they want help with.

Propose something else.
When you are unable to do something that you’re being asked to do, offer something else instead. For example, I’m often asked to send some type of communication to my entire mailing list. My answer is always “no.” However, with people I know and trust, I propose something else to maintain the relationship. I offer to post it on my social media instead and that generally works just as well. 

Don’t Seinfeld it.
In the old TV series, Seinfeld, the characters often came up with some crazy, complicated excuse or subterfuge that ended up getting them in more trouble than if they were candid from the start. Always be polite while being honest and direct.

When you say it, mean it.
Be a broken record; be firm. Sometimes, people simply don’t want to take “no” for an answer. I try to be polite, smile, and continue to repeat what I said before.

Saying “No” Due to Someone’s Poor Planning

I once had someone send me a document that they needed to have completed IMMEDIATELY for an important deadline. Mind you, they could have sent the document to me several months earlier. Due to their poor planning, they waited until the last minute to send it to me. At the time, I was out of the country on business with back-to-back trips scheduled over the next few weeks and they were aware that I was in the midst of my travels.

Regardless, they emailed me, my assistant, and my wife THREE times in two days! In between my meetings, I sent them a message and said, “I’m sorry you have a problem, but your project is not my priority due to your poor planning. You had months to send this to me and you sent it at the last moment (when I’m swamped) and you want it right now. NO. I am not able to do it right now.”

I had to be firm with my reply declining their request. I also put the responsibility back in their court, making it very clear why I said NO. Their poor planning did not need to become my priority.

One important reminder: don’t become addicted to “no.” I look for opportunities to help people and to say yes. It’s only when I truly cannot help or when I know I am not a good fit for their request that I say “no” to people.

You have to be clear in your mind whether something is actually an opportunity or a distraction. And then get comfortable saying “no” when it is the best answer for you.

My Business Travel Tips

My Business Travel Tipsstring(23) "My Business Travel Tips"

As the Founder of BNI® I have been fortunate to travel extensively for business and for pleasure, meeting many wonderful people from dozens of countries. These global opportunities have resulted in an accumulation of numerous tips about international traveling.

Most people know that business travel in your home country requires planning and organization. However, many businesspeople fail to realize that traveling abroad for work has unique challenges. So today I am sharing my tips for business travel which I think can be helpful for anyone taking a trip, domestic or international.

Before You Travel

  1. Research your destination – If you are going to conduct business in another country, learn about the local culture and customs. Read the local news to be informed about events that could cause delays during your trip. This advance planning also allows you to schedule time to complete all of the work you need to do AND have time to relax and see the sights.
  2. Your Passport – Check the expiration date on your passport. If you need to renew or apply for a passport, allow plenty of time for processing and shipping.
    Check with the country you are traveling to as some have a requirement for a passport to be valid for a certain amount of time beyond the date of entry into their country.
  3. Visa – Research the Visa requirements to enter the country to which you are traveling. Be sure to carry the minimum currency requirement to enter the country.
  4. Exchange Your Currency – You may find better exchange rates by ordering foreign currency from your local bank or credit union a week before you leave.
  5. Medical Requirements – Find out if visitors are required to get any special inoculations or show certain medical documents to enter the country.
  6. Mobile Phone – Contact your service provider for information about an international travel plan that will fit your needs. Other options are country-specific or region-specific SIM cards for phone and data access. 
  7. Weather – Check the weather forecast for your destination the week before you travel to help select climate-appropriate clothing.

Important Items to Pack

This list is my answer to the question, “What should businesspeople take with them on a business trip that they may not normally think about?”

  1. Business cards: You never want to run out of business cards while traveling. I make sure I have enough by packing extras in my suit pockets, wallet, briefcase, and luggage.
  2. Name badge: If you do business networking while traveling, take your own professional name badge. Don’t rely on the hosting organization to do your name badge and do it right.
  3. Extra pens: Make sure you have a pen with you during all meetings.
  4. Phone and laptop or tablet: Remember to bring the chargers for your electronic items. Bonus tip: fully charge all of your devices the day before you leave.
  5. Phone battery power bank: Bring a portable power bank that will allow you to recharge your phone when electricity is not available.
  6. Power adapter/converter: Research the type of electrical adapter you need for the country you are visiting so you can obtain it before you travel.
  7. Batteries: Bring a spare pack of AA and AAA batteries for your devices.
  8. USB Drive / Memory stick: These are very helpful when you want to give a copy of a file or a presentation to someone. I always carry one or two with me.
  9. Specific tools for your business: For me, that includes many printed copies of my bio for introductions whenever I speak. Another item I pack is a PowerPoint remote clicker for the projector to be able to control the slides during my presentations.
  10. Hand sanitizer: We often shake many hands when we travel for business.
    I carry my own hand sanitizer and use it frequently and tactfully.
  11. Breath mints: As obvious as it may sound, I can assure you from experience that many people have no idea they need them.

Tips to Avoid “Jet Lag”

When we travel to other countries, we need to adjust our sleep and mealtime schedules. I attempt to eat my meals at the same time that I eat at home. However, I also pack some healthy protein snacks for when I’m feeling hungry. It is also important to stay hydrated, especially while flying – drink lots of water.

This is what I do for my sleep schedule to help with jet lag when I am flying across several time zones:
If I will arrive at my destination in the morning, I force myself to sleep on the plane even if I’m not tired. I’ve found it best to sleep as much as possible to avoid feeling completely exhausted upon arrival. I am then able to have a full first day of my trip, awake and alert.

If my destination arrival time is at night, I do whatever I need to do to stay awake as much as possible on the airplane. A short 1–2-hour nap is inevitable, but I try to limit it. Doing this makes it much more likely that when you arrive you are so tired you will just fall into bed and sleep.

If you follow one of these approaches, you’ll flip your internal clock quickly and minimize the effects of jet lag – it has worked for me for decades. If you have a travel companion, ask them to do the same so you are in sync during your trip.

I hope you find these tips helpful as you plan your next business trip.
I’d like to hear your thoughts and any additional tips you have to share.