We look at our calendar and make a determination to attend something and honor a friend's request based on whether anything is slotted for that time period rather than how it might impact the amount of time available in our schedule each week or month. While we might have the hour or two hour time period available to attend one meeting, we generally don't agree to be present with the idea that this will become a regular commitment on our time. If we anticipated that, we would likely be more firm in our denial to attend.
Another time when the ability to say "no" comes in quite handy is when we are evaluating opportunities. We've always heard that we should welcome opportunities when they come our way and that we never know where an opportunity will take us. Actually it may not lead in a positive direction for us.
We may find opportunities that cross our path to be distractions, time killers, or money wasters. A true opportunity is worth being investigated and researched to determine if it has merit. As for the other, the answer is "no."
It's easy to imagine how a particular opportunity might benefit our business or allow us to prosper. We look at the positive aspects without always considering the downsides of pursuing such a direction. In fact, we may not even want to look at both sides of an opportunity because it sounds so strong or appealing.
There will be opportunities to align with someone strategically to perform work in a way that we couldn't on our own. Those indeed may be good, solid opportunities that will be beneficial to us, those we are working with at the moment, and the client or customer.
Other times, something will be presented to us that sounds lucrative but really isn't something that we should pursue. The money is good, but there are other considerations. What happens to our core business when we abandon it temporarily to pursue another direction? How easy is it to return to where we left off before following that new direction? Actually, we really won't be able to return to exactly where we left off to pursue that new, seemingly great opportunity.
While we follow that new direction - in a physical location we hadn't worked in previously or with a job scope that was beyond the limits of our comfort zone and business model, we put our regular, normal business on hold. We didn't make sales calls, we didn't develop new leads, and we didn't maintain contact with our existing customers. In that sense, we actually went backwards.
The time that we were following that new path took us away from our normal business, and it suffered. Rather than letting that happen, this is the time to exercise our veto power and declare "no" to such opportunities - even though they may look great. Some opportunities will allow us to advance our business , but many will essentially be traps. We have to be able to say "no" to the ones we feel will not be beneficial.