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Three Ways to Say No Without Saying No

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 7:00pm

We’ve all been there. A team member comes up to you with a “great idea.” Sometimes the idea is good, but maybe not great. Sometimes the idea has little merit. In his blog, “Radical Management,” Steve Denning offers advice on how to respond in these situations without deflating the energies and passion of your team.

Denning poses the question, “How does a leader practicing radical management say ‘no’ while maintaining focus, enthusiasm, and inspiration?” When a team member makes a suggestion, his solution is in limiting yourself to one of three possible answers:

  1. Say “Yes!” when you’ve heard a good idea or suggestion.  
  2. Say “Let’s explore” if the idea has promise, but the timing isn’t right or some aspects of the suggestion need taming.
  3. Say “What if?” if the idea has some merit but doesn’t achieve the desired result.

Though saying no may seem like the quickest route, Denning says that this shortcut may save time now but in the long term requires more time to repair morale and engagement. 

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