Often, when I ask someone a question, I follow it up with "'No' is an acceptable answer."
- Would you be able to help me with this project? "No" is an acceptable answer.
- Do you have a few minutes we can sit and talk? "No" is an acceptable answer.
- Would you be willing and able to take on this role at this event? "No" is an acceptable answer.
Generally, we are a society of helpers and doers. We want to be helpful. We want to be useful. So, when someone asks us for something, we want to say "Yes." We battle internally for a reason to say "No."
While some may simply ignore my post-script, many others hear it. It's important to me that people understand I will not be let down or disappointed if they say "No." Being honest about what you are willing and able to give from the very beginning, helps to keep from being unable to keep those promises or commitments later on.
The next time someone asks you to do something, really think about it. Are you truly able to commit to this? Are you able to give this the attention it needs? Before answering, remember that "No" IS an acceptable answer.