Learn to say “No”Muhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
It is always very pleasing to have a “Yes Man” around you especially if you are leading a team with a reasonable number of team members. I always believe that a “Yes Man” is like slow poison. It slowly, but surely, destroys the whole system sometimes without even letting the host realize it.
The Agile Methodologies believes in “building teams around motivated individuals”. For me, there is a big difference between the “motivated individual” and a “yes man”. It is good to have people around you which you can trust and is much more comfortable in planning and executing your activities but the problem with “yes man” is that they don’t have their own thought process. They just accept any statement made by their superior without any actual thoughts about it and thus cannot provide any new dimension to the idea or discussion.
The thing I learned, over time in my professional career, that there is a very positive impact on your personal development if you learn to say “No” to the things you genuinely believe conflicts with your personal point of view. It doesn’t mean you should disagree with everything but if there is some disagreement, then you should be able to convey it and discuss it till either one of the party is convinced.
Generally the reason, for the resources, to avoid saying “No” because they think that it might offend the other party and will cause discomfort. The professional thing to do is be open but polite about it and once something is decided, then not to disagree about it or have any grudge inside your mind.
In my article “Courage and Respect”, I have discussed the importance of this culture. It is important to learn to say “No” professionally and surely it does take courage. If you are able to support your point of view with reasonable arguments and facts, then your vision will be appreciated allowing you to expand your professional capabilities.
At the same time, it is important to learn to respect others’ point of view. Listen out to others patiently in the same manner you expect yourself to be heard. Also when saying “No” and giving your feedback, don’t always expect and be stubborn about always being right and the other party will end up in agreement with you. There will be many times when you said “No” and still have to go through it.
Being able to say “No” in a respectful manner will allow you a chance to grow professionally and bring out your creative skills. But be careful that the “No” should not be just to get noticed or to seek attention or just to start a discussion. You should learn to convince or be convinced about the disagreements through useful arguments backed by facts. It should be aimed at providing food for thought to the other party.
Never be afraid about experiencing negativity from the other side because of saying “No”. Good managers always like resources to speak-up and share their thoughts. Even if you get undue negativity from the other side, it will provide you with some experience which can always prove very important and positive in the future.