A leadership development resource

from the Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc.

Volume VII

Number 4

On the Horizon This Issue:

How to Say "No" (Without Saying "No")
When the boss wants you to deliver in a timeframe that seems unrealistic, what's the best way to respond?

Register for the Leadership Fast Track Program
Invest in your ability to lead people and projects. Sign up for a free web meeting to learn more.

Card Corner: How About Another Income Stream?
Are you relying on only one stream of income? Join me for a free web conference to learn more about Send Out Cards.





Help for leading during these challenging times!  Click on the cover above for details.



  [Saying "No"]  [Fast Track]  [Card Corner]  [The Institute Online] 


How to Say "No" (Without Saying "No")

by Andy Kaufman


Words: 654

Estimated reading time: <2 minutes

We have all been there before. Your boss (or customer) demands that you deliver their request in significantly less time than you think it will take.

Fred Brooks said it well: “It is very difficult to make a vigorous, plausible, and job-risking defense of an estimate that is derived by no quantitative method, supported by little data, and certified chiefly by the hunches of the managers.”

Do you speak up and seemingly risk your job by being the “No” person? Or do you give in, resigning to the reality that this is a game you cannot win?

"Do you speak up and seemingly risk your job by being the 'No' person? Or do you give in, resigning to the reality that this is a game you cannot win?"

In your job today, what do you do when you are in this situation?

One of the key skills that leaders must develop is their ability to influence. But how do you influence someone who doesn’t seem all that interested in what they consider excuses? They just want it finished in the decreed timeframe.

A CIO friend told me this: “I teach my people to never say ‘No’. Instead, we say, “Yes, but….” Another senior executive I know says it slightly differently: “I don’t say ‘No’, I say, “Choose.”

There may be times when you actually have to say “No.” But  “Yes, but” and “Choose” are powerfully effective means to reframe situations where you are facing unrealistic expectations.

A recent workshop participant named Terry headed home after a day of learning where this topic was discussed. Late in the evening Terry received a call from his boss who told him some additional scope was required on another project Terry was juggling. Terry decided to give “Yes, but” a try.

“Yes, we can do that, but it will have an impact on the current project I’m working on. Though I don’t know for sure, my best guess is that it will delay our current project by around 2 weeks.”

Silence. Terry told me he wondered how the boss would reply.

The reply came. “Hmm…. That’s a problem. Let me go back and see if I can get this pushed out to the next release. Have a great night.”

Terry was ecstatic! He came in all bubbly the next morning and told the story to the entire class. “It works!” he proclaimed.

When you are faced with daunting demands, make sure you do your homework. Look for options to make the boss’ request possible. When in doubt, error on the side of business needs instead of what’s easiest for you or your team. Bring your options to the decision-maker, along with a recommendation. (NOTE: I have learned it's best to come armed with a recommendation, making it less likely they will select an option that you do not prefer!).

Whether you use “Yes, but” or “Choose”, you demonstrate that you understand their request and are not immediately discounting it. In addition, you are showing ownership by bringing options to the table.

The “No” person doesn’t do that: they are just a wall of resistance. Being the “No” person isn’t sustainable at most organizations these days.

Taking Action

Here are my recommendations for you:
  • Try it! Most people find plenty of opportunities to run into situations where "Yes, but" or "Choose" can apply. Give it a try and let me know how it worked!

  • Learn more! This is just one example of the insights you will learn in our upcoming Leadership Fast Track Program.  Make the investment in your career. Take your leadership abilities to the next level. Click here for more information.

  • Join the conversation on our blog. How do you typically respond when you're faced with unrealistic demands? Click here to share your insights on our blog.

elearning (e-learning) to help you manage conflict from keynote speaker Andy KaufmanTo your success,

keynote speaker Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman

Speaker, Author, Consultant

President, Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc.

 Return to top


Accelerate Your Ability To Lead

Learn more about the Leadership Fast Track Program!

Our Leadership Fast Track Program is designed for business professionals who want to accelerate their ability to lead their teams, influence others, and deliver results. We will turbo charge your ability to lead with confidence, take focused action, and achieve the results you desire.

Do you have to increasingly influence without authority? Do you have more work to do than time to do it? Do you need to find ways to get your team more engaged and develop the people around you?


The Leadership Fast Track Program is designed to accelerate your ability to handle these and many more realities of today's business environment.


As a subscriber to Horizon Time, you can save even more than the already reduced Early Bird Registration fee. Click here to learn more!


 Return to top


Card Corner:

How About Another Income Stream?

Each month I am amazed at the feedback I get from people who have received cards from me. Something as simple as a card, in this day in age, helps you stand out from the crowd, whether with colleagues, customers, friends, or family.

But what if the same card system provided an additional income stream for you? If you are an entrepreneur (or a budding entrepreneur at heart), Send Out Cards could be part of your strategy of creating additional streams of income.

The model is very straightforward. If you sign-up as an Entrepreneur with Send Out Cards, you earn commissions when others in your circle of influence sign up. Plus you get a percentage of what they spend on a monthly basis in cards.

I'm guessing you know some business owners such as realtors, consultants, salespeople, and more who could use an edge in building their businesses. I have clients who are churches, corporate executives, and fundraisers, and they are all using the system to build deeper relationships with people they serve. My goal is to help them get their marketing paid for by using this system.

I'm not personally planning on buying a Swiss chalet with my earnings from Send Out Cards, but after only a year my cards are paid for by other people (and I send a lot of cards!). My goal is to have it eventually pay for our mortgage each month.

Want to at least check it out? Join me for a free walkthrough of the system via a web conference:

Date: Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Time: 7:30pm Central Daylight Savings Time

Click here to register today. I look forward to meeting you!

 Return to top





Stay in Touch!

Horizon Time is written by Andy Kaufman and is available via e-mail or on the Web for all who register.  You are invited to forward this to anyone interested in growing their leadership skills!


If you have any difficulty with the hyperlinks in this newsletter, you can view it online at:



You can access past issues of Horizon Time by visiting www.i-leadonline.com/NewsletterIndex.asp.


If this was forwarded to you by a colleague and you would like to automatically receive issue, click here


For more information on Andy Kaufman and the Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc., please visit our web site.


You can contact Andy by phone toll-free at (866) 88 I-LEAD (866-884-5323), or by e-mail at andy@i-leadonline.com.

Editors and Newsletter Writers!  Would you like to use some of the material from this newsletter in your newspaper, magazine, newsletter?  You may by including the following credit line:

"This article is used by permission from Andy Kaufman's newsletter 'Horizon Time' available at www.i-leadonline.com."   Please call or send an e-mail to let us know you used the article.

This information cannot be used for resale in any manner.

Horizon Time contains hyperlinks to web sites operated by persons other than the Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc. (I LEAD). Such hyperlinks are provided for your reference and convenience only, and I LEAD is not responsible for the content or operation of such web sites. A hyperlink from Horizon Time to another web site does not imply or mean that I LEAD endorses the content on that web site or the operator or operations of that site. You are solely responsible for determining the extent to which you may use any content at any other web sites to which you might link from Horizon Time.

Copyright © 2001-2010, Institute for Leadership Excellence & Development Inc.