The Art of Saying ‘No’ (tactfully)

If you’re taking on too much because you feel guilty when you say no, it’s time to start retraining the people around you.

Dear Annie: I hope you don’t think this is a dumb problem, but I need some advice on how to refuse when people ask me to do things that aren’t part of my job description, without being rude about it or burning any bridges. Over the past several years, I’ve gradually become the “go-to” person in my department for more and more extra tasks. I’m happy to help out, even though it usually means staying an extra hour or two in the evenings to get everything done.

But now, my family has my elderly and ill father living with us, and I need to leave work at 6 p.m. on the dot to relieve the home-care nurse. So I want to bring up the idea of dividing the extra work I’ve been doing among the five other people on my team — which sounds simple, except that all my life I’ve had trouble saying “no” to anything that anyone wants me to do. It’s always been easier for me to just say yes than to deal with the feeling that I’m letting someone down. Do you or your readers have any advice? — Doormat in Denver

Dear D.D.: First of all, I don’t think this is a “dumb problem,” and neither does Bob Burg, a speaker and author who frequently hears some variation of this question from audience members in his seminars at Fortune 500 companies. “Women tell me they have an especially hard time saying ‘no,’ but I think it’s a problem for men, too,” Burg says. “They just don’t admit it as much.

“Most people are generally nice and don’t like to disappoint other people,” he adds. “Where it gets counterproductive is when that impulse takes over and makes us do things that aren’t in our own best interests.”

Moreover, the situation you’re in — where a job just keeps expanding, little by little, until you’re loaded down with all kinds of extra duties that aren’t technically your responsibility — is so common that it actually has a name: Scope creep. “You often hear people in client businesses complain about this,” says Burg. “It happens a lot in consulting, where there are certain set expectations at the outset of a project, but the scope just keeps expanding until it’s gone way over the line of what was agreed upon or what’s reasonable.”

So how do you cure your scope creep? Burg, who wrote a book called Adversaries into Allies: Win People Over Without Coercion or Manipulation, takes issue with the notion, popularized lately by Oprah Winfrey and others, that “No is a complete answer.” “I cringe when I hear that. Saying ‘no,’ period, when someone asks you to do something is rude. It also tends to alienate people, which can make your job more difficult and cut you off from future opportunities.”

A better approach, he says, is to call an informal, five-minute meeting with your five coworkers and explain that, from now on, you’ll be leaving the office no later than 6. “Frame this announcement as an ‘I’ message,” Burg suggests. Prepare a little speech beforehand where you say something like, “I need to bring something up. I’ve allowed myself to take on a lot of extra tasks here and, while I’ve enjoyed helping out, it’s an issue now because I have to leave at 6 for family reasons.”

“Notice how often you say ‘I’, rather than ‘you,’ as in, ‘You all have been dumping too much extra stuff on me for a while now,'” says Burg. “Focusing on the ‘I’ keeps people from feeling they’re being accused, which will just make them defensive” — and less likely to go along with your plan to redistribute the workload. Then say you’d like to work out a system for sharing the extra work equally among the group, and ask for suggestions about how best to do that.

Particularly since you’ve always found it difficult to say no, “the toughest part is going to be the first couple of times after the meeting when someone tries to hand you one of those extra tasks,” Burg says. “But be steadfast. Remind the person politely that you’ve already said you’re no longer the only one responsible for whatever it is. Don’t apologize, and don’t give in.

“What gets rewarded, gets repeated. We train people how to treat us, so if you always say yes, you’re training these folks to keep asking,” he adds. “But once you’ve retrained them, by gently reminding them that the situation has changed, you should have no problem.” Here’s hoping.

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25 Business Tips for Entrepreneurs, Startups and Business Owners

You’ve heard you are what you eat, well we believe that you are what you read. We receive hundreds of books to read to help out entrepreneurs and business owners but more than just offering a chance to hear about a book we believe we want you to walk away with some wisdom just like we did from reading these books.

Teach a CEO presents lessons from the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf on how you can improve and grow your business venture. We have taken some nuggets from our library and provide them for entrepreneurs and business owners and to help your ventures.

Business Tips from The Bookshelf

1. One reason the five principles discussed in this book are so important is because the real difference between most people and Genuine Influencers is their ability to solve problems. The world rewards greatly those who can solve problems. In order to do that, you must face them head-on. (Adversaries Into Allies)

2. Decision making is driven by both conscious rational logic and subconscious emotional needs. Often, when faced with too many choices, people will gravitate toward the products or services that “feel” right. In a crowded marketplace, emotional drivers trump rational reflection. (Empathetic Marketing)

3. If you want to grow, there are a few things you should consider. First, you simply can’t do everything…. Second, some business owners…actually give their schedule to someone else to manage so that their time is strictly controlled…Finally, while you may not compromise when it comes to the quality of the product, you might need to make other compromises. (Small Business for Big Thinkers)

4. Mindset matters because your mindset–where your head is—guides everything else. Your mindset guides how well you can “think big,” how much you believe in your ability to succeed, how well you can think creatively and outside the box, and whether you can really stick with this and stay motivate. Mindset, in short, is everything. (Business in Blue Jeans)

5. But when large companies give some degree of ownership to the consumers in the process, that is, when they cede control and empower, it can easily become another support beam on the bridge connecting the consumer and the company. A company’s giving control, simply put, is amount the best ways to foster consumers intrinsic motivation to support its product or service. (Empathetic Marketing)

6. Edison’s experience as an innovator is as relevant today as it was one hundred years ago. Edison devoted considerable attention to the questions all innovators face in modern times: Which products should I develop? How should those products be designed, manufactured, and marketed? How do I raise money to support research and development? How do I respond to competition and changing markets? Knowing Edison’s response to these questions brings us closer to understanding the nature of technological innovation and creativity. Edison stands as an innovator, not because he always succeeded, but because of the scope and range of his interests. (Edison and the Rise of Innovation)

7. My one piece of advice for you on competitive strategy is to differentiate yourself form your primary competitors as much as possible. Differentiating your business model relative to your competitors enables your business, by definition to stand out from the crowd. (The One-Hour Business Plan)

8. Truly successful individuals create both immediate and long-lasting influence attracting others to them. After all, there’s a reason we say that someone with influence has a lot of “pull.” Great influencers attract people, both to themselves and to their ideas. (Adversaries Into Allies)

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How to Make This Holiday Joyful for You And Others

Yes the holiday is rushing towards us and many face it with mixed feelings yet there are small, priceless ways you can foster a festive spirit with others. You can be the wreath that encircles them with genuine warmth.

1. The Taylor Swift Touch: Praise Others Vividly, Specifically And In The Presence of Those Who Matter to Them. Taylor Swift graciously accepted her CMA Pinnacle award by thanking her country music friends George Strait, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley by name. She turned and looked at each one, then specifically, self-deprecatingly said what she had learned from each star. For example Taylor said, “Brad Paisley, who I toured with for nine months. I sat on a speaker by the side of the stage and watched him every single night and he was funny, and I’ll never be that funny.”

2. Be a Go-Giver: Adopt the Convivial Attitude That You Want Others To Have Too. “A two-year old falls down unexpectedly. He isn’t hurt but instinctively knows he wasn’t supposed to fall,” writes Bob Burg in his idea-packed new book Adversaries Into Allies. “He looks at Mom and Dad for an interpretation of what happened. If they laugh as though it’s funny, he’ll probably laugh. If they panic and act upset, he will most likely begin to cry. In either case, Mom and Dad unintentionally set the frame that led to the outcome,” suggests Burg.

We make that framing choice, consciously or not, many times everyday in our interactions with others. For example, the owners of this business positively framed their request by using unifying humor in the language on their outdoor sign you see to the left.

Since more people traditionally report feeling down more than up during the Christmas holidays, why not be a gift this year? Each time you meet someone in person or virtually, consider that you may be the only angel in their life right now. Set the situation for them to feel cared for, in that moment.

Also you can even “re-set” someone’s upset reaction towards you, as Burg did when driving in a parking lot and inadvertently almost hitting a man. By quickly waving his hand in friendly apology Burg shifted the man’s mood from anger to acceptance of the “waved” apology.

Holiday Hint: In every interaction this holiday, remember that healthy, happy marriages, according to John Gottman, usually have a “magic” 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Why not attempt to exceed that standard in all your relationships, beginning this holiday? Practice affirming their positive side and letting negative comments or behaviors slide. Be their soft shoulder.

3. Be Like Them: Brash Friendliness Pushes Us Back Yet Warm Geniality Pulls Us In. A warm smile tends to beget a smile in return. Yet an effusive, over-the-top laugh and wide grin, for example, may cause an introvert or someone who has just gone through a trying time to back into their shell. So bring out the friendly, expressive part of you that’s close to the energy level of the person you are with. Then you are more likely to close the gap of connection rather than widen it.

4. Make Your Welcoming Expression a Comforting Gift: Avoid The “Screen Face.” As we increasingly look down and focus on what’s on our phone, our faces tend to look serious or even dour or dismissive. Unfortunately we often maintain that “screen face” expression when we look up to engage with others. Since behaviors create moods and moods are contagious we are setting up an unfriendly “frame” for the rest of the interaction.

Holiday Hint: Adopt the Golden Golden Rule. Treat others as they want to be treated.

5. Start Now: Be The Gift They Are Happy to Receive. You’ve noticed by now that some people just don’t act right, like you. That’s probably the biggest reason we have friction with others. After repeatedly hitting your head against that hard wall you may be interested in finding a doorway through which you can walk to connect with others without that pain. Burg offers this key insight. While it’s extremely difficult to change what others believe you can often avoid conflict, or turn around a fractious situation and sometimes even sway others if you are willing to “work within their belief system.”

He suggests that you view your ego as the horse you ride. If you are in control of your horse you can “accomplish great things.” Conversely, “if the horse is out of control, it can wreak all sorts of havoc, becoming a danger to itself, the rider, and everyone in its path.” Burg cites The Sages of Talmud: “Say little, do much, and greet everyone with a pleasant countenance” then advises that, “instead of talking a good game, actually play a good game.”

Perhaps your most nourishing way to prepare for this upcoming holiday is to practice being a welcome gift to others in the sometimes sad, stressful and joyful times ahead. You’ll find over 200 specific ways in Burg’s idea-packed book.

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Soft Skills Influence Others; Think Before You Speak

Hold sway with savvy persuasion, not verbal punches. Compelling execs take a thoughtful approach to winning ’em over:

Take the high road. A true victor? Someone who can turn an enemy into a friend. In “Adversaries Into Allies,” author Bob Burg explores such influence.

A first step, he says, is drawing a clear distinction between manipulation and persuasion: “Manipulation does not consider the good of the other party. By its very nature it results in a win-lose scenario.”

On the other hand, “persuasion wants both sides to benefit,” Burg told IBD.

Chill out. Lesson two is keep cool. “The mighty person is one who can control their own emotions,” Burg said.

Staying composed isn’t easy. He points out that Founding Father Ben Franklin kept a list of things to work on. “One of them was to be calm and thoughtful,” Burg said.

Find common ground. A starting point is to agree, even when views are diametrically opposed.

“This isn’t about giving in to anybody,” Burg said. It’s about finding the tiniest spot on which both sides can concur. “Now that you’ve found a point of agreement, this person is a little more open.”

Handle with care. “In any interpersonal interaction, the ego will come into play,” Burg said.

Imagine the other person wearing a sign that says: “Make me feel good about myself.” Respect the other party’s ego, and “you become the type of person they want to please,” he said.

Set the tone. Anticipating a bout? You’ll probably get one.

Going in with a smile — physical and mentally — sets a tone.

Burg’s point: “Expecting someone to be helpful doesn’t change them. It changes you. And that is what changes them.”

Follow that grin with genuine concern for the other party’s needs. “Now you are reframing the situation from one of conflict to one of cooperation,” he said.

Deliver with diplomacy. Burg calls tact the language of strength because it gets the job done.

“Tact should never be confused with compromise,” Burg said.

You’re still presenting your position, but in a way that softens the perceived blow.

The trick is to insert empathy.

Instead of: Your report’s conclusion is weak.

Try: I can see you worked hard on this report. Adding some thought to your conclusion will wrap it up nicely.

Be deliberate. In “Stop Talking, Start Communicating,” Geoffrey Tumlin tells readers to listen like every sentence matters, talk like every word counts, and act like every interaction is crucial.

Silence your rightness. There’s a time to speak, and a time to keep quiet. Staying on good terms sometimes requires resisting the urge to prove others wrong.

Avoid: “I told you so.”

Stifling such a comment can feel like a point lost. But give yourself credit.

“Restraint isn’t flashy or glamorous, but it won’t blow up relationships or torpedo your goals,” Tumlin wrote.

Hone it. It takes diligent practice to become someone others listen to. So says “Vocal Leadership” author and voice coach Arthur Joseph.

His clients include actor Pierce Brosnan and former NBA coach Pat Riley, as well as ESPN and Ritz-Carlton.

Breathing techniques, voice warm-ups, body language, tempo, verbal and nonverbal expression — each tool helps speakers achieve a masterful tone. “It’s not just what we say, but how we say it. Everything matters,” Joseph wrote.

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The 25 Best Leadership Bloggers

Anyone who has ever tried to lead people will tell you leadership is more like art than science. And as with art, perfecting the craft of leadership requires studying under a master. Of course, an aspiring leader must have a foundation of communication, decision-making, and problem-solving skills, but owning the tools and knowing how to use them to maximum effect are two different things. The blogosphere is full of leaders with either outstanding leadership knowledge or strong writing ability, but far fewer have both. These 25 bloggers earn our endorsement as the best of the best.

1. Dan McCarthy: This director at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics can be found blogging at Great Leadership. McCarthy has a conversational style that is easy to read but that does not prevent him from conveying some hard-earned business knowledge for both current and aspiring leaders, from a guy who has clearly been both.

2. Michael McKinney: Too often we think of leadership as the sole purview of bosses and CEOs. Michael McKinney and his blog Leadership Now are here to remind you — with articles on ethics, personal development, lessons from Abraham Lincoln, and more — that leadership can be practiced by anyone.

3. John Maxwell: With more than 19 million books on leadership sold, his blog needs no other name than John Maxwell on Leadership. He uses the site to bring leaders “timeless and timely” teaching, tell you what he’s reading, and offer his thoughts on leadership today.

4. Bob Burg: Fresh off his latest business leadership book entitled It’s Not About You, bestselling author and speaker Bob Burg freely shares on his blog the type of insights that politicians, professional athletes, and millions of his readers have been receiving from him for years.

5. Michael Hyatt: The tagline for the blog of this author and publishing company chairman is “Intentional leadership.” In addition to helping leaders be thoughtful and purposeful, he also blogs several times a week about productivity, social media, and his personal area of expertise, publishing.

Read full list here.

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CBS Money Watch: Summer Reading for Sales Pros

summer_readingAh, summertime! Time to curl up on the beach or by the lake with a good Nook. Or Kindle. Traditionalists out there may even pick up one of those old-fashioned books (ink and paper included). In addition to the latest spy thriller or romance novel, consider adding some recent sales advice books to your summer reading pile.

Here are five I recommend:

Go-Givers Sell More (by Bob Burg and John David Mann). A practical guide to powerful and effective sales, this book turns the conventional process of selling on its head. Its approach to business and sales is based on five steps: adding value; touching lives; building networks; being real; and staying open. Punctuated by stories of real-life salespeople who have prospered by giving more, Go-Givers Sell More offers tips and strategies that anyone can start applying right away in their sales career. Also don’t miss co-author Burg’s critically acclaimed book, Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales, which has sold over 200,000 copies and remains a great read.

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18 Books Every Realtor Should Read – recommended by fellow agents

AGBeat polled their readers on what books they believe every agent should read and which books have impacted their lives. Both Endless Referrals and The Go-Giver were on the list.


The Importance of Reading

We may be biased because the currency we deal in is reading and writing, but it is easy to get caught up in digital reading and forget the importance of tangible books. It is no simple theory that reading non-digital books is important- according to a study by the National Endowment for the Arts, “There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans.Most alarming, both reading ability and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined among college graduates. These negative trends havemore than literary importance.” Further, the study claims that “the declines have demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications.”

We all know the famous Dr. Seuss line, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Even Confucius weighed in about reading, saying, “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” But reading is more than simply cramming your brain full, it is about becoming more than you already are. “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader,” said Margaret Fuller, which sums up what we are opining today. Read the news, read it diligently and read as many blogs and articles you can get your hands on, but don’t forget to buy a tangible book and step away from the computer screen from time to time. Read more…

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A Start-Up’s Financial Reckoning

The New York Times small business blog today ran a piece about a high tech entrepreneur who recently took her business through a major crash course in course-correction. (You’ll never guess how. Read on.)

“Success came quickly for SolTec Electronics,” begins the piece by Times columnist Adriana Gardella. Created by founder Dawn Gluskin in her living room in 2008, the firm sells hard-to-find circuit board components and solves big companies’ supply-crunch problems.

By the beginning of 2011, Dawn found her company had suffered its first quarterly loss, and could be headed for trouble. She responded with agility and creativity, putting in place a number of fascinating changes, for example, in her financial controls and management.

Here is the change that most caught our eye:

Ms. Gluskin, SolTec’s top revenue generator, said she is trying to “clone” herself. She revamped SolTec’s sales training program and now holds weekly meetings with her sales representatives during which she emphasizes the importance of relationship selling. Recently, she had her sales staff read The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann. “The moral,” she said, “is the more you give, the more sales you’ll get.”

SolTec has many competitors, but Ms. Gluskin said it stands out by emphasizing customer needs. She urges her sales staff to get to know customers on a personal level and help them even when it will not directly benefit SolTec. . .

You can read the full text of the article here.

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Coach Bronco Bullish on The Go-Giver

“Well, Bronco Mendenhall is putting his nose to the grindstone in his new duties as Defensive Coordinator,” says the anchor in this KSL-TV piece from Salt Lake City, “but he still finds time to put his nose in a book away from the field. He says his reading selections have helped to shape his coaching style.”

He is talking about Brigham Young University’s Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall, famous both for his consistent wins on the field and for his commitment to community involvement and academic excellence among his players off the field.

The piece goes on to introduce a clip of Head Coach Bronco talking about one particular offering from his bookshelf, a book that explains “how successful you can be by giving.”

The book? You guessed it. A little red hardcover about a frustrated go-getter named Joe.

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NECN Interview – “The Go-Giver” & Getting Ahead At Work

NECN’s Morning News co-anchor Mike Nikitas interviews Bob Burg about “The Go-Giver” and ways to get ahead at work.

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