Posted by: jmwilsonmga | April 10, 2012

How to Say ‘No’ (Kind Of)

My first real job was in retail – a locally owned, family ran, old-fashioned pharmacy and soda fountain.  Yes, that’s right soda fountain – complete with the black and white checkered tile floor to the oh-so-dreaded malt machine that spun so out of control you ended up wearing chocolate malt home on a daily basis.  The owner and his wife prided their store on one factor: service.  It was very important to them – each person, every time, no matter what the circumstance.  Saying “no” wasn’t much of an option.  Being my first job, I was fixated on this concept – how can I provide really good service with each contact and how can I always find solutions to people’s needs or problems without saying no?

Now, here I sit, 11 years into the insurance industry, and I still try to carry out this motto.  Yes, it’s taken a toll on me at times, and yes there are people who will take advantage because you just can’t quite form the n-o word on your lips.  However, most people are grateful that you can be that go-to person for them and they know they can count on you to help them.

Being in a leadership role at JM Wilson, I have the honor of presenting at an upcoming associate workshop for our staff.  When I reviewed the outline, I saw that I had been assigned to lead a session on: “Internal and External Relationships”.  This couldn’t be more up my alley!  Then I read the first bullet – “How to say no.”  My stomach dropped.  How can I possibly present on a topic that I don’t practice?  So I’ve done some soul-searching that I think is worth sharing with you in case you are in the same chair that I sit – the YES chair!:

  • When approached with a task or request that you can’t manage, be honest about it!  Simply say “I’m sorry.  I can’t do this right now”.  If it’s something that you really want to do, give the person another time that you COULD do it.  (See, you really aren’t saying no, you’re just doing it on your own terms, when you are ready!)  “I can’t do this right now, but I could in two weeks.  Would that work for you?”
  • Be a solution – not THE solution.  So, you’re too busy, have too much going on – who doesn’t?  When approached, offer the person another solution or person that they could ask that might be able to get the job done for them instead.  Still helping them out, but not doing the work.
  • Let them dictate what can wait.  “I’m happy to help you with this task and am currently working on (or part of committee) A, B and C.  Which one would you like me to put on hold to get this in the mix and completed?”

Be polite, be respectful and don’t feel bad!  You can still be a good resource, solution-finder, friend, co-worker, parent… but give yourself a little room and time for YOU too!  Now, cut out the above three bullets and hang them up in your office – you know that I have!

About the Author : Erin Herson, Underwriting & Agency Relations Manager

Erin Herson joined J.M. Wilson in 2009.  She is responsible for underwriting, teaching Continual Education courses, as well as establishing and developing new agency relationships.  She loves the people that she works with and finding creative solutions to their needs.  Outside of the office, Erin enjoys working out, spending time with her children, golfing, cooking, and of course, shopping.
Disclaimer :  This article is for informational purposes only.  There is no legal advice being suggested or proffered.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions taken or not taken by the readers based upon such information.  This article is the opinion of the author and is not supported or endorsed by J.M. Wilson.  It should not be relied upon and may contain inaccuracies or content may have changed over time, contact your underwriter for the most current and accurate information.  Any comments or responses are the opinions of their authors.  Content on this site is believed to be covered under Fair Use. Legal

Copyright 2012 J.M. Wilson Corporation

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