In a recent post, Seth Godin talks about what to do with special requests. It’s worth a moment to read, especially for leaders and mentors. Boiling it down, if someone has a special request, don’t send them away because you’re busy. They probably will go (and stay) away.
So, what to do with them? This line of thinking triggered a not too distant memory. I had received complaints from other departments that this person’s most likely response to a request was, No! The person in question was a high-value team member, responsible for coordinating team resources. We were constantly stretched beyond reason, so hearing ‘No’ to requests might not seem unreasonable.
In line with Seth’s, ‘…cost you $90…,’ I gave some advice. Don’t say, No. No, in translation, was this person’s way of saying, ‘No (it cannot be done in the requested time frame).’ The recipient would bristle as a result.We probably all tend to bristle when simply being told, No. Instead, tell them we’d love to do it, but it might be 5 days/weeks/months. Anything but ‘No.’ Let the requester decide whether to pursue the issue, or not. After a couple of weeks, the complaints died down, and the internal friction from hearing ‘no’ faded away.
I’d also suggest a third reason for turning down special requests: They are not in line with your (organization’s) chosen path. Just because you can, just because you’d like to, doesn’t mean it’s wise.
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