One challenge I have always encountered are the many requests to be a mentor, attend an event, grab a coffee to talk about life or volunteer to support an event. I never like to say no to an opportunity to help; however, the requests sometimes come in waves and the commitments can seem overwhelming. It is actually a great place to be where you feel needed and I would not have it any other way. I am sure you have had to be in a situation where you had to choose if you could be involved or not.
What I realized was that I was framing the opportunity the wrong way. Why do we often look at a situation as a ’yes/no’ decision? It is easy and convenient to open up our calendar and see what our schedule looks like and respond with – “yes, that can fit into my schedule” or “sorry, but I have commitments and it is not going to work”
Instead of looking at things as ‘yes/no’ how about you take control and respond back with ‘here is what I can do’. It might still be a challenge but by framing it this way, you take hold of the situation. Let me share an example. I will get requests from a student to meet up for tea (I don’t drink coffee). What I do is say is that this week might be difficult, how about you provide me 2-3 dates/times next two weeks that work for you? I have moved the request to what I might be able to do as opposed to flatly saying ‘no’. Do you realize that by doing this, in 18+ years, I have never turned anyone away and we are talking about hundreds of meet ups. Sometimes if you are not able to help, perhaps you know someone who can…you have still helped because it is ‘what you can do’.
My other recommendation here is that when you commit to what you ‘can do’, how about you over deliver on the request. What I mean by this is that you do just a little bit more than what is requested. Now don’t shoot for the floor and then deliver the moon. That is too obvious and it just looks like you are trying to gain favour. Instead, always look to do your best and more than what is expected. This now becomes your reputation where people will look at you as someone who can over deliver…and you did this by owning it when you said ‘here is what I can do’.
The next time someone has a request look for the opportunity to own it. Sometimes it might not be possible and that is totally fine but see about what you can do. Be more creative than ‘no’. What I have realized is that this has been one of the foundations of my success…and here is ‘what I will do’ – share with you so you too can be successful.
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