Thursday, January 5, 2012

Saying no

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with Jennifer Miller.  The power of social media - we met on twitter, connect IRL with lunch at FMG, and have stayed in touch.  Our time and efforts on twitter may wax and wane, but I am grateful to know her.  And stay in touch. 

At our lunch, we talked about our current jobs, work, and such.  Jennifer is doing more presentations and we talked about our reservoir of topics.  She also mentioned another colleague who really refined her niche by turning down work and focusing on only what she does best. 

That was a mind-bender for me.  Turning down work?  Saying no? 

Right before Christmas, I met with another colleague who is starting to wind down his career.  He wants to keep some work part time but wants more time with his grandkids.  The minute he made the decision, several opportunities came his way.  He struggled, but he said no. 

More turning down work.  Whoa. 

My turn.  I was presented with an opportunity to speak about technology.  Normally I would absolutely do this but it was speaking to middle schoolers.  But I don't have kids.  This is not my audience.  I don't know what middle schoolers know about technology and social media.  Probably more than their parents want them to know.  But I don't know how much that might be.   I didn't see this going well. For me. For the kids in school.  For the parents. 

So I said no.  I gave the requester three names of others who could speak to this audience. 

Upon reflection, I could not have conceived of a time when I would say no to a speaking opportunity.  But the moment I turned it down, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief.  All the confirmation I needed. 

And putting together the pieces, I owe Jennifer (and a few others) and great big THANK YOU.  It's okay to say no. 


Jennifer V. Miller said...


How wonderful to know that I was able to bend your mind- in a good way!

With all of our indoctrination to "give customers what they want" it seems counter-intuitive to say no.

As you point out, in the long run, nobody wins if you agree to do something that isn't a good fit for you.

Deirdre Honner said...

Indeed. It was a wonderful moment for me.

It was also interesting to hear that message a couple of times. Perfect timing. :)