We are Indians, and yes, we can say ‘No’!
Mr Tom (client) – So Sunjay, here is the situation. I have a demo in 10 days and I would like the whole platform to be ready a day before. I hope that is a fair request?
Sunjay (Bridgy) – (After a moment’s silence). No that would not be practical.
Mr Tom – (After quite a few moments of silence). I thought I heard you say no.
Sunjay – That’s right, it will not be a quality platform if we rush.
Mr Tom – (A silent sob). Excuse me Sunjay, while I dab my tears…
Sunjay – Tears?! Mr Tom, I hope I did not cause that! I had to be practical.
Mr Tom – No, of course not Sunjay. These are happy tears! In my 10 years of work, this is the first time I am hearing a team member honestly telling me the fact! All I have ever heard is; “Yes, yes Mr Tom, we can do that”, “Yes, Yes, build you a pyramid in a week? Yes of course!” and have it all topple down at the end.
Sunjay – Haha…ok, I’m relieved. So here’s what we can do. Let’s work on the most important features first and ….
(*Names changed from the original)
The above conversational scenario shows the commencement of our amazing collaboration with one of our happy long-term clients. And it all happened with the word ‘NO’!
The Art of Saying ‘No’ – Powered by Confidence in our Competence
So how do you get a team to reach here? Saying ‘NO’, requires a lot of confidence and the ability to provide alternative solutions. Culture plays an important part in how a person responds to a request, be it a fair or an unrealistic one. As Indians, we have had decades of submissiveness in our history, which runs in our blood till date.
But this is certainly not a situation or conditioning that could not be transcended. The key is taking that first step as a mentor. Show by example. It could be a simple scenario where you say ‘NO’ to the client when a request is made for your team to work on a weekend.
Unless of course, it’s an urgent and/or a money-losing situation, your client will certainly understand and respect the decision.
And most importantly, your team realizes the fact that replying in the negative in the most modest manner is an appreciable trait, as long as it makes sense.
You can achieve this state of maturity when you start seeing your clients as your partners, team mates or colleagues, rather than “the boss”. When you see yourselves as equals and work towards a common goal, saying NO comes as easy as breathing.
Of course, in the end, you would not want to be Frankenstein, creating a team that says NO to everything. The team should also understand the “yessable proposal”, providing an alternate solution along with your practical “NO”.
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