Say “NO” to “YES”

As a business owner or a top executive of a large firm, you are approached by many people in your organization who wants to get their problems solved from you, discuss new ideas they got 5 minutes back or some even want to talk for the sake of making their presence felt.

“Sir, do you have 5 minutes, I want to discuss a problem we are facing with one of our top Customers. He is shouting as the consignment is not yet delivered and its already 1 week overdue”. One of your sales managers comes to you the moment you enter your office.

Yes! You reply immediately. Afterall Customers are what drive any business. How can you say no to this request!

“Sir, XYZ enterprises have not sent the metal sheets we require for fulfilling order no. zzzzzz. He is not even responding to my calls and messages”. Now, this is your purchase guy who dashes in as soon as you finish spending 1 hour to solve the problem of your Sales Manager.

How dare he!!!! Yes, I will talk to him right away.

Suddenly you see an email from one of the prospective Customers you were trying to get on board, asking for a revised proposal. You think it will take only 30 minutes to finish and then you can get on to the vendor who has dared to not send your raw material on time. You start working on the proposal which unexpectedly takes about 1 and half an hour.

The purchase guy is still roaming around your cabin and you remember that you have not still spoken to the vendor he referred to. You call the vendor and he commits to send the material asap and you convey the same to your team. Took another 30 minutes as the vendor wanted you to discuss how he never receives payments on time.

Oh! Now you see an email in your office inbox from a Business Growth coaching company, inviting you to participate in a 1-day Business workshop. You do not want to waste your time on such workshops as you wonder How anybody can teach you how to run your own business?

This time you said a big “NO” and simply discarded that email without even reading the full content and felt happy that you did not waste time on such trivial things…

And then you hear a ping on Whatsapp from one of your friends who wants to meet you today for just 15 minutes to discuss how you can help him in placing his son for an internship role in a company which happens to be your customer.

Its again Yes! 15 minutes is not a bad time to devote on a friend! Come over, please! thats your immediate response.

Except that you did not realize how it took more than 2 hours as you and your friend got nostalgic about the good old college days!!

 …..And the Story Continues…..

By the time you finish dealing with all of them; it’s the end of the day but you feel happy that you helped all of them and proved yourself as a good Boss and good friend who is approachable anytime by anybody. What a good feeling to have!!

You also feel happy because you think you have contributed to your business since all the people you solved the problems for (even your friend as he may be useful for business networking) are actually working for your business only. So it was the most productive use of your time!


When you look at all the important things you planned to do and none of them could be done, you feel frustrated and frazzled.

No doubt, you are working a lot! But are you growing or moving towards your intended business or personal goals?

Solving problems and helping your team and your friends is not the issue. The problem lies in the manner and the timing of helping.

Saying Yes to everything is the most common reason for not achieving your Business Goals and the most common reason of Stress and Unhappiness in our lives.

The problem is not just the loss of personal productivity. Many businesses too get into this trap of saying Yes to everything. The Business Owner is focusing on 10 product categories and suddenly he/She encounters a new product/service in the market which he/she believes his business can produce and sell in a much better way! So this new product/service also becomes another area of focus, and so on.

Steve Job said – “Focusing is about saying NO”

After being ousted for a decade, Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 and one of the first actions he took was to shrink the product line. He ensured that whatever Apple produces, is best of the quality.

The ability to say NO was one of Steve Job’s greatest skills.

While answering questions from developers at Apple’s worldwide developers conference,  someone raised the topic of “OpenDoc,” a software engineering framework that Jobs decided to kill upon his return.

Jobs said “I know some of you spent a lot of time working on stuff that we put a bullet in the head of,” begins Jobs. “I apologize. I feel your pain.” “But Apple suffered for several years from lousy engineering management. And there were people that were going off in 18 different directions–doing arguably interesting things in each one of them. Good engineers. Lousy management.

And what happened was, you look at the farm that’s been created, with all these different animals going in different directions, and it doesn’t add up. The total is less than the sum of the parts. And so we had to decide: What are the fundamental directions we’re going in? And what makes sense and what doesn’t? And there were a bunch of things that didn’t. And microcosmically they might have made sense; macrocosmically they made no sense.

 …When you think about focusing, you think, well, focusing is about saying yes. No. Its not.

“Focusing is about saying no.” – These are the 5 golden words for increasing Productivity.

Now, we understand that saying No is important. But actually, saying “No” in an inappropriate manner may cause more harm than good. Following are few indicative ways to practice and implement this extraordinary Time management strategy:

1.Understand your actual Role

You got to understand that you are not supposed to be a part of the working system, but to work on the system to make it more efficient and growth-oriented. Don’t feel guilty if you say “No” to any task to justify this notion. Apart from the immediate time savings; Saying “No” also has a collateral benefit that the concerned person will be able to build his skill-set to perform the task, which is a win-win for both the employee and the organization.

 2. Assess – Should you say No or not

Though there are no black and white rules, but being a business owner or a top executive of a large firm; You have to assess if the task being demanded from you is something only you can do and nobody else has the capacity or the skill to handle it. If that is the case, it will definitely be a bad idea to say “No”. You must accept the task but at the same time, initiate the measures so that the next time you should be able to say “No”. One of the measures can be the skill development of the concerned person to enhance his/her capability to handle the said task.

3. Build a culture

You may agree or not, but the research has proven that the behavior of your employees is closely linked to the culture or the values established by the Business Owner. In all of your meetings or town-halls, emphasize on the fact that every employee is the owner of his/her responsibilities. This culture of ownership if inculcated appropriately goes a long way to prevent the situations where you have to exercise the option of saying “No”

4. Think and decide

Sometimes it gets difficult to assess whether to say Yes or No to any situation or task being imposed on you. The Remedy is, not to react immediately. You can respond something like this – “Fine, I will get back to you after checking my schedule.” It also helps to make the other person understand that be asking you to perform the task, they are disturbing your schedule.

5. Language and Tone

The human emotional system is a complex web. It’s very important not to tickle the wrong nerves and the choice of words and tone plays an important role in it. Be polite but firm. E.g. when a team member wants your help on soothing a disgruntled customer, you can say that “Hey, I know it’s a difficult situation, but I believe you have the capability to handle it very well. Give your 100% and if you still face any problem, then I will step in. In that case, I would want you to learn and practice handling such situations so that you become valuable for the organization.”

It sends a subtle message to the person that he/she will be seen as value creator if he/she successfully handles the situation himself/herself.

So, Start implementing the above strategies and save your valuable time which can be used to think about business growth.


Hope you found the above article useful! Let us know if you have any questions. We at Passion2Grow are passionate about the growth of MSME Businesses in India and other Asian countries.

If you want to know more how you can benefit from our services to take your organisation on a path of exponential growth, visit us at or call at +91 8882397510 or email at We would be happy to associate with you.

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