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Saying Yes or No? Exercise Your Power of Choice

October 21, 2015 Matt Rocco

Every day, each person on earth is presented with hundreds of yes or no decisions that have unforeseen consequences. Unfortunately, the fast pace and demands of the workplace may combine with daily distractions to easily cause individuals to make hasty decisions without first thinking about the consequences. Without fully realizing the implications of these decisions, many people are proverbially shooting themselves in the foot by not consciously making choices that align with their personal goals and commitments.

Consider the following example: Sherry was inclined to say no to a commitment of holding one-on-one meetings with a new direct report because she did not believe that she had the time. She felt that her competing priorities were too much to add upon. She also had a deep desire to take on another complex project that would help her professional development.

After discussing the impact of her commitment to a weekly one-on-one meeting and how it might benefit her, her department and the new direct report, Sherry realized that it was her responsibility to provide direction, leadership, and support to her direct report.  Without that support, the direct report would either have to flounder along and eventually figure things out on her own, or she would fail. This would not only affect the direct report, it would also affect Sherry.

Sherry realized that this was a clear and simple way for her to become more successful, and saying no to the meetings would impact both her and her direct report. Moreover, she realized that the increase in communication that comes from one-on-ones could possibly help her eliminate some of the issues arising between her and her direct report, such as challenges on Sherry’s requests and continuously missing deadlines.

At that time, Sherry committed to weekly one-on-ones with her new direct report in order to increase the worker’s competency in certain tasks. Saying yes instead of no directly led to the direct report’s growth and development as a valuable member of the team, and thus helped the department reach its goals. Over time, Sherry’s direct report required less and less direction and support from Sherry, which allowed Sherry to take that newly vacant time to work on the complex project that she wanted to use to increase her own skills and development.

Thinking through the implications of our choices before we react can greatly influence the direction of our personal and professional lives. Consider the following questions that you should always ask yourself before making a split second decision that may take you in a direction you did not really want to go:

  • How much time will I really need to invest if I say yes?
  • Will I benefit from this decision?
  • Will others benefit from this decision?
  • What limitations on tasks will I face if I say yes or no?
  • Will this choice help me reach my goals, or will it decrease the time I am able to work towards achieving my goals?

If a choice will not actively help you work towards reaching your goals, then the choice should be clear. However, it is vital that you take the time to determine just what the consequences of these choices will be instead of making an emotional, knee-jerk reaction that may not serve you well in the end.