Saying No To Things At Work

no“Quite candidly, I?m really ruthless in terms of doing only those things which are absolutely essential. I?m saying no to a lot, both in work and life. I see a lot of working moms who think they have to be 110% at work, and then volunteer to run the school auction. We?ve become so awful at saying no. I try hard to become incredibly selective about those things I engage with, so I can be really present for the stuff that I?m doing, and be really engaged with my kids in a meaningful way. People are trying to accomplish too much, and they?re killing themselves in the process.”

BUTT OUT

“I see a lot of peers insert themselves in all sorts of activities where it?s probably not necessary. That either indicates they don?t trust their teams to work independently, or they think they?re so central they have to be involved in everything. I think I?ve failed if I haven?t empowered my team to accomplish what they need to on their own. When I was consulting, I learned quickly that everyone is replaceable. The circle closes quickly when people leave. Once you start to realize that, it lets you step away from feeling like you have to be the center of every decision.”

DON?T NETWORK

“I always say no to networking activities. They just make me want to peel my skin off. The last thing in the world I want to do is posture in front of a bunch of people I don?t know very well, for what is largely an amorphous or unmeasurable outcome. Here in the mid-Atlantic, there?s a huge number of events one could attend. You could literally spend every night going to some tech meetup or CEO dinner. It?s often the same people, and it feels like they?re there to promote their own agenda. It feels like you?re getting fed a line.”

DON?T ANSWER EMAIL

“I love email. I?m probably a rare breed in that regard. I love it because it allows me to work asynchronously and to consume vast amounts of information rapidly across the business. But unless I?m specifically asked a question, I don?t respond. If a CEO responds, everyone thinks they need to respond back, and that kicks up a lot of dust.”

SAVE THE WORLD? NAH

“I say no to a lot of philanthropic activities. I do think they?re incredibly important and I appreciate the time people invest in it, but for me personally, unless it?s a cause I?m deeply committed to, I generally say no. It takes away from me doing the specific essential things in my life. I also say no to a lot of women?s events, women-in-tech events, and women mentorship events. At the end of the day, I want to help people move ahead generally, but it doesn?t matter to me whether they?re women or men. Sheryl Sandberg would no doubt be disappointed in me.”

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SAY NO TO BEING INAUTHENTIC

“I met recently with the chief marketing officer of a respected brand, and as soon as I sat down, she said, ?It?s really great to meet you, but I have to tell you: I?m leaving the company next week. I?ve been replaced. No one knows except my family and you.? We had the most authentic, vulnerable, open conversation. The payoff was purely emotional. I cultivated a personal relationship I?ll really enjoy. Whether it?s just that next time I?m on the West Coast we?ll have a glass of wine, or that she lands at another company and we work together, it doesn?t matter to me. Her willingness to be authentic and vulnerable in that moment allowed me to be authentic.”

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