1. What can you tell our readers about your new book The Yes No Book?
The Yes/No Book is about how to achieve more by doing less. Most of us at some point realise that we have not been focusing on the things that matter. To please others or assuage our own guilt, we’ve ended up saying yes to doing things which are both time consuming and often counterproductive.
The Yes/No Book explains why this happens and gives you practical techniques that enable you to take control of your decisions, become less stressed, less busy and much more productive.
2. Where did your idea for the book arise from?
I have been running time management training and seminars for ten years and every now and then, someone would come up to me and ask “I’m actually very good at managing my time… but I still don’t get everything done; I’m still running around like a mad thing.”
I expanded the section about saying “no” in my training, so it seemed obvious that, after the success of my earlier book, Brilliant Time Management, I should tackle this subject and give it the whole book it deserves. That led me to The Yes/No Book. When I combined my method for saying “NO” with my ideas about your “inner Gopher”, it made a compelling story.
3. Who is this book aimed at?
The Yes/No Book is for anyone who find themselves rushing through life, balancing multiple priorities, constantly busy but not really getting anywhere. It is ideal for people who want to say no but are afraid to – maybe because their inner Gopher compels them to go for this and go for that, whatever crops up.
4. Were you one of the people who used to say yes and no without conviction?
Like many people, I first built my career and became successful by saying “yes” and delivering on my commitments. But as I experienced more and more calls on his time, I became aware that, with too many opportunities, I was in danger of failing. I knew I needed to find a way to choose which ones to follow.
5. The book is structured into three parts, so can you tell us a little bit more about these?
Part one focuses on why people get stuck saying yes to everything and introduces the idea of taking control by asking a few very simple questions of yourself, and interrupting your knee-jerk “yes”.
Part two introduces the idea of the Noble Objection – a positive reason for saying “NO”. It discusses how to decide whether to say yes or no and, if you do decide to say yes encourages you to do it whole-heartedly; to say “YES”.
The final part looks at the psychology behind why people find it hard to say no, your choices about timing, and how to say “NO” confidently and respectfully.
There is also a great appendix giving examples of how to say “NO” in common situations like deals, family, clients, and temptations.
6. What is a result of saying yes and no at the wrong times?
If you say no at the wrong time, you miss opportunities and risk giving offence. Fear of these is one reason why people are so bad at saying no when they should. But, if you say yes at the wrong time, you spend big chunks of your working day or your private life doing things that have little or no benefit to your employer, your customers or you. At the same time, you don’t have the time to do what really does matter. And if you force yourself to make that time, you end up over-worked, stressed and resentful. None of that is good!
7. You were a project manager and management consultant, so tell us about when you decided to make a change.
That was the biggest “NO” of my professional life: the choice to step away from a successful career as a senior practitioner in one of the world’s largest professional services firms. I did it because the basis for progressing in the firm would have been to start delivering services I would not have enjoyed in a way I would not have believed in.
On the other hand, leaving gave me the opportunity to start my own business, develop services I enjoyed and spend a lot of time learning and researching interesting ideas that my clients could benefit from. The right NO made room for a very positive YES.
8. What is the best feedback you have been given in your experience as a coach and trainer?
It is always when people tell me that something I have said or shown them has made a big difference to their work or their life. It has happened with individuals I have coached, with groups I have facilitated, with managers I have trained and with people who have attended my seminars. Most recently, I have started to receive emails like that from people who have read my books.
I enjoy my work and do it for the pleasure as much as to earn a living, but those sort of comments make it an absolute joy.
9. How can we identify if we have fallen in the trap of saying yes and no wrongly?
You rarely have to do more than examine your feelings: we tend to know immediately. You get that feeling: “I know I shouldn’t have said that; I wish I hadn’t have said it; why couldn’t I have just said no?” It’s for people who have experienced that feeling that I wrote The Yes/No Book.
10. What is next for you?
I am currently scheduling seminars for 2013, developing a seminar based on The Yes/No Book, and working on two new books for 2013 – the first of which is about how we communicate with each other, looking at conversations, meetings and public speaking.
Female First Lucy Walton