You Want to Do What? A Strategy for Saying No

You Want to Do What?

As everyone in the BI field knows, managing end user expectations or requirements can be a challenge.Ok challenge may not be the right word, sometimes is a downright battle between awesome yet unrealistic expectations for a particular tool or timeline and well reality.

As a good partner internal or external, while your first instinct maybe be to shout no from the rooftops or collapse with your head on your desk isn’t usually not an option for an actual response. So what do you do? Bend twist and manipulate a tool to do something it wasn’t designed for and worry about supporting it going forward later? Work a ton of hours, bring in more resources to crash a timeline and perhaps compromise quality? Or maybe something else all together to meet these expectations. Say no.

When to Say No

We have been trained not to say no. Saying no has a negative connotation implying we don’t know how to do something, we are being unreasonable or maybe just not a good partner.  None of that is true.  It implies you know your toolset and the resources you have available, that you are being reasonable about your options and that you are being a good partner by being honest and responsible with company resources.

Saying no is all about when and how you do it. An immediate response of no could lead the requestor to believe you haven’t fully considered their request. While your thought process may have been driven by facts, a quick response is usually an emotional one. And even if you are certain the answer is no, if you really think about it are you giving it fair consideration by saying no immediately? Give yourself some time to think about it before answering.  This will allow you to put some context around your no and also earn some goodwill with the requestor.

Just the Facts

When you do eventually have to deliver a no, it’s all about how you do it.  Just saying no (no matter how easy it would be) will not do.  You need to give the proper context to your no and it needs to be about facts and not emotion. Break your no context into 2 components: 1. Factual Reasons for Saying No 2. Alternative Solutions.  This shows you’ve thought about the request, value their ideas and have considered alternative options.  It also gives you the opportunity to add your knowledge and maybe you could even add some reality about tools and resources.  Perhaps your suggestion is a completely different tool, a smaller amount of requirements on the same timeline or a different solution altogether either way it’s now thoughtful and well thought out without emotion.

Bottom line, it’s ok to say no. You can be a good partner and still say no.

Remember like Sgt. Joe Friday said, “just the facts”.

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