Archives April 2018

7 Scripts To Say No With Respect

It is questionable if ‘No’ is a full sentence, but it is a terrible answer to give another human being.

Whether you are a parent, a spouse or a boss, saying “no” to others isn’t always easy.

But it’s a message that can be delivered with kindness.

Kindness to yourself, and the people around you.

Think about it.

Do you want to go out for coffee with a mentor who’s stretched to the max and resentful?

Do you want your star employee to stay silent if she’s drowning in too many projects?

Of course not.

You want the people you care about to be happy and sane! Those people must also include you. Saying no doesn’t limit your opportunities either — it opens you up to the right ones.

Read about using silence as a conversation tool

It’s not just about the words you use, but how you say them. If you want to say no with grace and compassion, keep these tips in mind:

Be Quick – Saying no doesn’t get more comfortable if you wait. Respond as quickly as makes sense — it’s a sign of respect and gives you peace of mind.

Be Polite – Thank them for thinking of you and, if appropriate, congratulate them.

Give AN Alternative – If you can’t do it, ask how else you can contribute.

Give The Reason – Research shows that the word “because” makes people more likely to do something. It softens the blow and provides context.

Don’t Lie – Whatever you say, be truthful. If you can’t be sincere, then don’t say anything besides a kind “no.”

Don’t Apologize – You can say that you’re sorry to miss the event or program, but don’t apologize for saying no. You haven’t done anything wrong.

Read about talk to your people when times are bad



HOW TO SAY NO TO YOUR BOSS WHEN YOU DON’ T HAVE THE TIME … I hear how important this is. Can we look at my current priorities together? There’s a lot in motion right now, and I want everything to be done right.

Why it works: “Can we look at my priorities?” shows that you’re on top of things. It also reminds your boss that there are consequences to shifting your focus.


HOW TO SAY NO TO YOUR BOSS WHEN YOU DON’ T AGREE … I don’t think we should move ahead with this strategy, but I do have another idea that might work way better to help our customers. Are you open to another perspective?”

Why it works: Instead of being disagreeable, propose an alternative, this proves you’re invested and committed to helping the team get the desired outcome.

HOW TO SAY NO WHEN YOU’RE OVERSTRETCHED AND OVERCOMMITTED … “I have to pass on this one. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and promised I wouldn’t take on any more commitments until I had a chance to get back on track.”

Why it works: It’s simple, truthful and transparent.

Read about too many priorities

HOW TO SAY NO TO HAVING YOUR BRAIN PICKED … Ask what they realy want.

Why it works: People ask because they need something, you can save time and still be helpful by merely asking what they want.

HOW TO SAY NO TO REQUESTS THAT ARE NOT YOUR AREA OF EXPERTISE …”Great idea, but I have to pass because the project falls outside of my expertise. What you need is a person who does X. Here are a few referrals to get you started:”

Why it works: Referrals are a fantastic way to support your client, grow your network and keep everyone working in their zone of genius.

HOW TO SAY NO TO CLIENTS WHEN YOUR SCHEDULE IS FULL … I have to pass because my schedule is full right now and I wouldn’t be able to give your project the attention it deserves.” Why it works: By calling out your inability to “do a good job,” you’re showing how much care you put into each project.

HOW TO SAY NO TO WHEN YOU’RE TOO BUSY: … “Thanks for thinking of me, but I’m not able to accept given my other commitments.”

5 Secrets To Avoid A First-Time Manager’s Worst Mistakes

The world is littered with failed construction supervisors who used to be perfectly good carpenters.

First-time managers are a challenge to work for.

They are people who got promoted by doing a non-management job well, and they probably have little experience in their new role.

We have all seen the bright, shiny and super competent accountant, carpenter or widget-maker that was well liked by Management and was rewarded by being promoted to a supervisory position.

In last week’s blog post we discussed how being the boss wasn’t all sunshine and roses. It is even worse for the first time boss. World peace doesn’t break out nor do cats start sleeping with dogs just because you are in charge.


Read the Blog: 4 lonely truths of being the Boss

I am currently working with a client who is a technically and intellectually brilliant. He was promoted to a team leader role and now he is super frustrated with lack of results.

His problem? No one has ever taught him to be a boss, yet here he is, The Boss.

Here are the five secrets he could have used to avoid, the all too common, mistakes that will undermine the new boss fastest.

  1. Focusing on people instead of tasks

Before the promotion, your job was come to work every day and do the best job you could do. You were there to get stuff done.

Now your number one job is to help other people contribute to the accomplishment of the organization’s mission and objectives.

Sorry, but you can’t avoid the fact that you will have tasks, too: reports, budgets, planning but these are secondary to helping other people to do their job.

You have to get to know your people to understand what rings their bell, what demotivates them, what is going on at home and how to get the best work from them.

Related: Click here to read more about motivation

  1. Transition out of the old and into the new

You can’t do your new job well if you’re still doing your old job.

First, get rid of the stuff from your old position and get over any illusion that you were indispensable to your old team.

Negotiate with your old and new boss to offload your old tasks so you can focus on your new role.

Your old job will be done well. Accept that it won’t be done the way you would do it, but it will be done well … so get over yourself.

  1. Partner with your boss

Managing up is a bogus and disrespectful concept. You have to figure out what matters to your boss, and your boss’s boss, and make that stuff matter to you.

I used to ask my Boss what her performance objectives were. Guess what?

Poof and suddenly my work had better contribute to her objectives.

  1. Buy yourself time

A client just accepted a position where she is managing three times the number of people she had been. Her management issues didn’t multiply by three; they grew exponentially by a factor of 3.

To get a grip on the scope of what she is facing I coached her to begin to fill only 75% of her time in her calendar. People will want to talk to her and a million things that will fill that ‘free’ 25% of time.

Read about the leadership magic of the number 75

  1. Use silence to listening


Listen to the organization. Get people out of the workplace so they are comfortable enough to start talking. Ask open-ended questions then shut up and let people talk.

Remember that one of the most annoying things about any manager — or anyone for that matter — is when they just won’t shut up.

Related: click here to read about using silence in a conversation

The 6 Essential Questions You Can Ask Children & Employees

One of the great pleasures of my life is having thoughtful conversations with children.

Being an Uncle and a friend of children relieves me of the parental relationship and creates openness and free-space to engage at a different level.

I love opening those conversations with gentle questions like: What did you learn at school today? Or, what surprised you today? Or, what happened when ‘X or Y’ happened?

I am not sure which came first, but I often used similar open-ended questions with members of my team. I learned more about what was going on at work by framing questions to find out if people understood why they were doing something over what they are doing.

Read more about asking why

I recently read a great post by Ozan Varol, where he related a story about a question from a parent asking how he could cultivate curiosity and critical thinking in his children. He responded with questions parents should ask instead to inspire a richer conversation, discovery information and inspire creative & critical thinking.

They reframed my opening questions, my challenge to you is: How can you use them in your workplace?

1. Instead of “What did you learn today?” Try “What did you disagree with today?”

“What did you learn in today?” reinforces the regurgitation of knowledge on demand.

By reframing the question, you can develop the ability to challenge the status quo and to question alternative facts and convenient lies.

2. Instead of “What did you accomplish this week?” Try “What did you fail at this week?”

We live in a society that stigmatizes failure. As children we don’t fail, we receive participation awards. Now as entrepreneurs – and quite weirdly – terms like ‘fail fast’ have become participation medals for adults.

Read more about the fallacy of successful failure

In asking What have you failed at this week gives people the breathing room to tackle problems and it creates space to reflect, learn, and improve on your next attempt.

3. Instead of “Here’s how you do that.” Try “How would you solve this problem?”

When an employee comes to us with a problem, resist the initial instinct to deliver a quick and efficient fix.

Let them find a solution on their own. The process involved in finding the answer is far more important than the answer itself.

4. Instead of “That’s just the way it is.” Try “Great question. Why don’t you figure out the answer?”

As children, we were masters at asking questions and were moved by genuine curiosity. The education system and workplace have beaten curiosity down because most questions have been settled because That’s just the way it is.

Instead of stifling your employee’s curiosity, encourage them to ask questions and remain curious through open-minded inquiry.

5. Instead of “You can’t do that.” Try “What would it take to do that?”

Don’t off-handedly dismiss ideas as crazy or infeasible. Imagine if a young Einstein had been silenced by a busy or annoyed boss.

Open possibilities instead of closing them off, encourage seemingly crazy ideas by engaging with your people in conversation.

6. Instead of “Did you make a sale today?” Try “How did you help someone today?”

The first question is superficial.

The second encourages forming meaningful connections and developing a spirit of generosity. It is a far better message to be on the lookout for opportunities to help others.