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I’m not a delicate little flower. When it comes to giving my opinion on an idea, I’m not shy about saying that something can’t happen or using the word no. “If you don’t want the truth, don’t ask me what I think,” is one of my personal mantras. I’ve always been proud of my direct nature and sincerity, and for the most part, those attributes been applauded. Having the confidence to say no is an important skill to hone. Being a firm decision maker is a leadership trait. The people who can say no with confidence are generally the most successful, right? Think again.

I’ve noticed a trend recently and it’s the tendency of powerful people to say yes. People who say yes! sure! definitely! immediately make the person making the ask feel at ease and triumphant. Saying yes makes you the most popular person in the room. Of course, if you’re the big boss, saying yes or even no, comes easily. But how does that work when you’re an employee several rungs down the career hierarchal ladder?

The great news is, even if you’re not the person in charge, being an employee who says yes, even when you’re thinking 'hell no,' can be a huge tactical advantage and ultimately advance your career.

Here are two examples of how yes is better than no, even when you secretly know that you’re probably not going to accomplish the task:

Example 1: The Naysayer
Boss: “Can you make x, y, and z happen by Monday?”

Naysayer Employee: “No, because it’s Friday afternoon and I can’t get x, y, and z here in time.” (The Naysayer answers 'no' immediately without actually thinking it through. Right about now your boss is annoyed and thinks you are useless).

Example 2: The Yea-sayer
Boss: “Can you make x, y, and z happen by Monday?”
(The Yea-sayer takes a five-minute pause to research a possible solution).

The Yea-sayer Employee: “Yes! But I would need to get a private courier service to deliver x, y, and z. Are you comfortable with me spending an extra $500?” (Right now your boss is impressed that you both researched a solution and are budget conscious).

Boss: "Hmm, $500 doesn’t seem worth it. Ok, let’s get x,y, and z here as soon as you can."
 
In this scenario, the employee presented a solution and ultimately steered her boss to no, the answer she immediately had in her head anyway. But the difference is that the employee didn't have to be the one to deliver a negative response. She simply led her boss to the same conclusion. See the thing is, the employee shouldn’t care either way. An employee's job is to present scenarios, explore solutions, and give answers. An employee's job is not to shut down her boss’ dreams and stifle her boss' vision.

I am a huge fan of efficiency and I don't like beating around the bush, but as much as I love declaring an immediate, “No, that can't happen,” when I am truly confident that something can’t, I now quite enjoy the benefits of saying yes and presenting the series of things that need to happen so yes has a chance to succeed.

Saying no shuts down creativity and stifles progress. Yes is the true answer to success. People who say yes to things are naturally more likeable too. Hearing the word no gives off a negative impression. It could even make you look lazy!

Now, you may be saying to yourself, but sometimes you have to say no! True. But isn’t it better to first think of all the possible ways to accomplish something before you rule something impossible?

In Shonda Rhimes', Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, she went from being a person who said no to everything to a person who challenged herself to say yes no matter what the 
ask was. Her 'year of yes' was filled with wonderful surprises. She states, "Saying yes . . . saying yes is courage. Saying yes is the sun. Saying yes is life.” By the same token, stretching your mind to imagine what could be, instead of what can’t be, will make you flex your professional muscles and sharpen your brain power. It could also lead to amazing things!

You may be asking yourself, “What if I can’t really do it?” Well, that’s ok. You’ve presented all the ways to make something happen and if you still can’t succeed, at least you tried.

My friend Mike recalled a former boss who would always amaze everyone by saying yes to everything. “He would say yes to absolutely anything that anyone asked and then ultimately wouldn’t really follow through,” said Mike. But he was never viewed as insincere because he would always have legitimate reasons as to why he had to back out or couldn’t do what he had originally said yes to. The impression that everyone walked away with, was not the end result, but rather the immediate, comforting 'yes.' Everyone loved him for it. They only ever remembered the 'yes.'

So the next time you’re about to deliver a hard no, pause and think of what a scenario of yes would look like and then present it. Leave the decision in your boss’ court. She will realize 
that the answer is no or she will decide to spend the resources to make yes possible. Either way, you will have delivered what you’re supposed to which is support and ideas.

Here are the Top 4 Reasons to Say Yes to Anything Your Boss Asks:
1.You’ll expand your mind in running the possibilities
2. You’ll be viewed as a positive person
3. You’ll be considered a solution seeker instead of a dream crusher.
4. You might surprise yourself with what you can accomplish!

So go ahead and as my fellow author, Whitney Johnson, advises in her best-selling book, disrupt yourself!! You might be shocked with the results.
 
xo,
Aliza

Do you want to tell me something about this post or do you want to suggest the topic of my next one? Email me at blackboard@alizalicht.com or tweet me @AlizaLicht. P.S. don't forget to subscribe to BLACKBOARD, (my occasional newsletter) and get it directly to your inbox!
 

 
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