Having a reputation for being helpful can be a double-edged sword, says Alex Cavoulacos, the co-founder of the business advice site The Muse. In a piece republished at Forbes, Cavoulacos explains how she gets inundated every month with dozens of requests from people wanting to pick her brain or obtain connections within her network or any of a whole bevy of other reasons. This puts Cavoulacos in a position where she has to decide whether to say "yes" or "no":
"I love being helpful when I can, but there’s an inherent conflict between saying yes and saying no. Saying yes takes time away from my growing team, who need my time, presence, and support, as well as from my friends and family. In fact, if I had said yes to all of the requests last month (assuming each takes 30 minutes), it would have taken me over 17 hours. That’s almost an hour every workday!
Saying no, however, is both a missed opportunity to help someone and to build a relationship and a risk of coming off as rude, even if your reasons are pure. Oh and not to mention, harder to do. I’ve opted for balancing the two as much as possible, but finding the best way to say no has taken some time."
Her article then moves into the "how to say no" portion. For unsolicited (and, more importantly, uninteresting) pitches, Cavoulacos includes a template response and includes some tips for keeping pushy people at bay. For cold requests to meet from total strangers, you can either decide to "punt" the request by explaining that you're booked for the foreseeable future or you can try submitting an alternative means by which the person can benefit.
Check out the full piece (linked below) and let us know what you think. Do you have a tried-and-true way of saying "no?" Share it in the comments.
Read more at Forbes
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