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Become A Confident Communicator

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How to say NO nicely and why cop outs back fire

It is possible to be truthful, kind to yourself and others and still say NO.

By the way I don’t always say NO, I have just made it a habit to check in with myself to make sure I am only saying YES to things that I can manage to deliver well and keep my own balance of health, family and work.

In my last blog “Just say No” I spoke about the freedom and joy saying no more often can bring, I promised to write another one on ways to say NO to the things that drain your energy, time and take you away from the things that matter to you.

I wanted to follow that up with some practical ways you can practice this more in your life at work and at home.

In my experience some of the reasons people (me included) say YES way too much are:

  • Afraid of what people think of them if they don’t
  • Want to be liked (people pleasing)
  • Feel guilty for saying no
  • Value others more than themselves
  • Fear of letting someone down

None of those things are bad things in moderation, but when saying YES too much takes over your life and leads you to exhaustion, overwhelm, when you start to miss out on the relationships closest to you because you have too much on your plate for other people, then it is perhaps time to start saying NO more often.

TIP: Cop outs lead to more pain, and you only have to deal with it later, some cop outs may sound like:

  • I will think about it, but you never get back to them, you leave them hanging
  • I might be interested, but you have no intention of being interested so you just have to say NO later and you drag it out for both sides
  • Maybe, when there is no maybe, you are just avoiding saying NO, ditto above

Making up a lie as to why you can’t, just say NO, it is kinder and living with integrity frees you from more guilt.

It is always better to be compassionately honest, the other person will appreciate it even if NO is not what they wanted to hear.

Saying NO strategy ideas (this is what works for me and others I have worked with, feel free to pick and choose your own strategy)

Extra requests on time:

When someone asks you to do something, more work, a new project, volunteer to contribute for something or run an event…etc, but you know you have heaps on your plate.

First thing I do, is I take a breath and ask myself these questions:

  • Will saying YES mean that other things will suffer including my health and energy?
  • Could this be done by someone else (not always my responsibility to find that person either)?
  • Am I only saying YES because I think I ‘should’ or are afraid of what people will think if I say NO?

Give yourself time to process and give the answer that honours your time and energy best

If I feel my issue is saying YES because I am on the spot, I may ask nicely to think about it and get back to them, BUT I will always get back to them, otherwise you risk appearing rude and unreliable.

If I need to get back to them to say NO then I will do the following:

When thinking about how to land something with someone, I try to think about how I would like it said to me, that mostly helps – unless you are a ‘blunt’ person and ok with people being blunt, remember not everyone is OK with that, you may need to learn to put a little fluff around the word for relationship sake.

My goal is to clearly decline, so there is no maybe, I might be keen, if I know I am not, then I just have to deal with it later again and give false hope, and to maintain a good relationship with the person ie. Not cause offense, pain or too much inconvenience.

The first few examples have no explanation, you can learn to say NO without big justification, the person probably just wants a yes or a no anyway, not your life story, but if you are starting out on this journey it may be easier for you to practice by adding a small line at the end, it is for your benefit really, just to ease your guilt and help you to believe you have the right to say NO, but it can work like a ‘crutch’ for a while, so you can become more familiar with saying NO.

  • Thank you for thinking of me for this XXXXXX unfortunately I am unable to take this on for you.
  • I am flattered you thought of asking me, thanks, however I can’t fit it in right now.
  • I will not be able to complete this in the time frame you’re are asking, sorry.

A bit more fluff for those who need it:

  • Thank you for thinking of me for this XXXXXX unfortunately I am unable to take this on for you, due to family/work commitments.
  • I am flattered you thought of asking me, thanks, however I can’t fit it in right now. My diary is full, and I wouldn’t do the project justice.
  • My plate is really quite full right now, I would prefer someone else took this on, so it gets done in the time frame you are asking.

General lead ins for saying NO – the lead in is the way to start the sentence

  • Thanks for thinking of me, however…..
  • I appreciate you have a gap, however
  • Thank you for asking, but
  • Your charity sounds fantastic, however
  • Thank you for taking the time to explain to me, however/but

Followed by ways to say NO nicely

  • I am unable to fit it in right now
  • I am unable to take this on for you
  • No thank you
  • Thank you, but no
  • I donate to other charities and am at my capacity
  • I am at capacity right now sorry
  • Sorry but I am unable to help you right now
  • Sorry I can’t help you

This topic can grow, and sometimes lead to people understanding they have a bigger issue with setting boundaries and taking care of themselves than just saying NO more often.

As a communication coach I help people with these strategies, I would be happy to answer any questions you have, feel free to get in touch.

Be brave, be honest, and honour yourself


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Just say NO.

Saying NO can be the kindest thing you do for someone else, and yourself.

We often think saying YES to every request, on our time, money, resources and even our minds is being kind. I learned a long time ago, that being ‘kind’ to everyone else was leaving me exhausted, overwhelmed and sometimes resentful, and I wasn’t be kind to myself.

I used to attach so much guilt to saying NO, I would often find myself in situations where I was burned out, exhausted, resentful and just plain overwhelmed. After a few of exhausting years, I realised I needed to get some stuff off my plate, I needed to breathe and declutter my schedule so I could give myself some time to just be me, look after me.

I started to learn how to say NO, nicely, it wasn’t always ‘without guilt’ or that nagging feeling I was letting someone down, but I still did it. The more I did it, the more I realised that my life was not going to fall apart if I put myself or my family first.

I also learned to re-frame it in my mind, by stepping out or back from something I was good at, was possibly giving someone else the opportunity to contribute.

Our egos get a it of a lift when someone says “You are so great at that XXXX or you are the best person for this job because you are so good at xxx”

Those who are used to delegating committees, teams or jobs, are great at finding the right people but also great at framing the question in a way that ‘sells’ it to them.

You may be amazing at your particular skill, even love doing it – if you are like me, you may be the one everyone goes to for help with that particular thing, but if your life is so full your head is spinning, you are tired, grumpy, not spending time nurturing your own health and wellbeing, then you probably have too much on your plate.

GREAT NEWS: You have the power to choose, to decide what things you will say YES to and what things you will say NO to.

I have been reading a book lately called Soulful Simplicity, by Courtney Carver – What a great book for those seeking more simplicity in all of life! In this book she says,

“Stop saying YES to the things your heart says NO to”

  • What a great starting point, if you don’t even know what your heart says no to, that is a great place to start, get in touch with your heart again, go somewhere quiet and just start writing a list of all the things that fill your days, weeks, life.
  • Then go through that list and tick off all the things that energise you when you do them or are a part of them, give you energy, you look forward to, and give your all too without effort.
  • Then put another mark next to the things that drain you, that exhaust you, or you have to drag yourself to. Those are the things you need to let go of.
  • The things in between where you are not sure, leave them for later, deal with the obvious things first.
  • If you find this hard, the letting go bit, start with one thing a week, let go of one thing a week, or say NO to one thing a week.

TIP: Be sure NOT to fill that space you create with more stuff, or jobs etc, put yourself in your diary in some of those spaces, to do things that nurture your body, mind and soul!

You will be amazed, over time, how practicing the power of NO will allow more joy, freedom and love to creep into your life if it is not full of saying YES to too many things

In my next blog I am going to cover off ways to say NO, for those who need ideas in this space. Check out this follow up blog here

Here is to your freedom to be you and honour yourself with time and self-care.

PS: There is no cure for guilt except self-worth, valuing yourself more. The more you honour yourself and your time, the less you will feel guilty, it probably doesn’t go away all together, but I have learned that it is better to feel guilty for a bit and deal with that, then be completely useless to my family and self because of exhaustion and overwhelm!


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3 simple tips to improve communication and have great ‘vital conversations’

Influence key relationships and desired outcomes at work more, by taking a little time to plan your vital conversations

Rather than avoiding or winging them, stopping first to think about the conversation you need to have next, by asking yourself a few key questions before you launch into it, can make the difference between a productive and healthy outcome versus making things worse and less productive.

Vital conversations, you know the ones that you ‘should have’ or even know we need to have? I have chosen to call them ‘vital’, because I have come to understand through my work that there are conversations that are VITAL to building and maintaining healthy relationships at work. They are often avoided because of a fear or negative opinion about potential conflict.

You’ll experience greater freedom, happiness and productivity, by acknowledging and putting a small amount of forethought into having vital conversations.

3 Tips When Planning Vital Conversations

1. Think about your recipient or audience

Who are they as a person? What is their view? How might they be feeling?  How do they prefer or need to get the information you need to get across?
Eg: Sending someone who you know prefers a phone call, a quick txt on an important issue, may not get the results or response you want

2. Choose an appropriate channel

TXT’s are for friends, family, or quick messages like “Are you avail for a chat?” “I’m running late”, for apt reminders or client reminders.Emails are great to record information, back up conversations, but words can be misinterpreted in an email, and it is not the best platform for a healthy two-way conversation.Meeting in person is often the most productive way, but if it’s not possible pick up the phone

3. Be Purposeful

What are my intentions?  What would be my most desired outcome? Am I being honest and authentic? True to my values?
Sincerity shows, so does a lack of it!

Final word:

Your life is made up of relationships. And the nature of relating with people can cause conflict. When this arises remember how important it is to face the vital conversation, and now with these tips you can be purposeful while confident to have them well.


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Whoops – Did I just say that?

I have just interviewed 5 people in 5 days for a senior role! As part of a panel of 3 of course, not alone. Exhausting, fascinating and inspiring, are the top 3 words I would use to describe this past week. One thing in particular stood out to me, and here is an example of what not to do in an interview.

We all know that first impressions are everything and that there are a few seconds to make a good one, in an interview it can be really tough, the person is there under the spot light being ‘grilled’ by 3 people around a table. They are possibly nervous, and being asked questions that are forcing them to think on the fly.

BUT, there is a #1 rule that I believe everyone should remember.

Be 100% yourself! Be authentic, truthful and remember never to show a lack of integrity in your examples.

Lack of integrity, honesty and authenticity shows through, sometimes it takes half an interview but it seeps through cracks in what you are saying, body language, tone and other signals to the potential employers that you are not quite who you say you are.

Example: This person was interviewing so well for this role, they were just on fire, and we were all impressed, they had skills, background and connections, they were confident and did a great job. I was really liking how things were going, but then they gave an example of when some safety corners were cut by someone else and they had noticed it, and instead of doing something about it they said ” I just walked away hoping that the client didn’t see it”

It bugged me, and when we came together looking at what strengths and concerns were for each person we were strongly considering, this person was up in the top 2 for many reasons, but because of this integrity issue and maybe one other thing we decided to offer the job to the other contender.

I just couldn’t get past that comment, it cast doubt on everything else this person said. I know that sounds harsh and it could be just one of those slips like a ‘Whoops can’t believe I said that’ moment, but I guess we will never know, because in those critical moments during an interview there is no room for error on those factors.

There are things that can be trained, and up-skilled, but the deal breakers for me are integrity, authenticity and getting a sense you are who you say you are before I even do the background checks.

One of my favorite quotes:

Be yourself, everyone else is taken

Here is to being the best version of you that you can be


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Sales Conversations – What’s The Story?

Great sales conversations are made up of many skills, and almost all of them can be learned, but the #1 thing that needs to be addressed first is mindset.

After a coaching call today I wanted to share how I helped a young sales guy become unstuck.

The stuff going on in our heads before, during and after sales conversations directly impacts the results!

What are the negative stories you tell yourself? What did you make it mean last time someone said no or

the thing you were selling was too expensive or had objections or questions during a sales conversation?

I just had a coaching session with an awesome young sales person by phone, he had embraced his new assignment with gusto, only to have the wind knocked out of his sails by a couple of challenging calls.

He found that he just didn’t want to make the next call and had lost his confidence!

I asked him a question: “What are the stories you are telling yourself about these people you have to call?”

Some people also refer to these as ‘beliefs’ what are your limiting beliefs about that person or situation, often before you even get to ringing them. Here are a few common ones:

  • I don’t know enough, they might be too busy to take my call.
  • Who am I to ring them talk to them they are so much more …… (fill in the blank) than I am.
  • I am not (fill in the blank) enough.
  • They may ask a question I don’t know the answer to, therefore I don’t know enough (see number 1)
  • I will fail, they will know I don’t know enough, they will know I am young, new etc..

The list can go on, I call these ‘stories’, and we major in making them up! Most of the time they are just not true at all!

If you know you have some ‘stories’ that are not bringing the results you want, that you have made up in your head, then you have the power and the talent to re write those!

TIP: Write them down on a bit of paper, acknowledge them, and make a decision to re write those stories, to more positive perspectives. Try to step back from your negative story statements and ask ” is this true?” and then ” What is another way I can look at this?”

Some positive things you may choose to replace the negative ones with are:

  • They need what we have, I am trying to help them with a problem.
  • They have a problem I may have the solution.
  • I know my stuff and what I don’t know I can find out.
  • No doesn’t mean anything until I know what it means.
  • The most common story sales people tell themselves that no means is ” they don’t like me, they don’t want what I have, I am bothering them, etc”

Extra Tip: Ask Ask Ask – Powerful open ended questions are powerful in sales conversations, engage with them, ask powerful questions, be genuine and hone those listening skills.

If you can make up negative stories, you can make up positive ones too. I know you know this, Thoughts are things!

If you have stalled on your sales conversations or recently had a bad experience, take a few moments to ask yours “What are the stories I have made up about this situation?” and then “Are those stories true?” if not – re write them.

To your sales success


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What have tomato plants and corporate or business environments got in common?

It can take ONE thing to increase productivity and healthy growth, the trick is finding that ONE thing and then applying some positive action on a consistent basis.

A healthy plant/organisation versus on struggling to survive!

When I first learned to grow tomatoes I learned ONE thing, just ONE, that made a huge difference in me producing edible delicious cherry tomatoes.

Pruning the laterals!

Laterals: Nice leafy green bits of the plant that grow fast and in abundance but produce NO fruit!

When you don’t prune them……they end up choking the fruit producing parts of the plant, blocking sunlight, taking nutrients, sucking the LIFE out of the branches that need all that good stuff to be productive.

Once I learned this ONE thing, and watered my plant, I grew great tomatoes.

I have found this when working with large corporate organisations through to small and medium businesses, in these environments the laterals can represent many things that distract from or prevent healthy productivity and growth.

Laterals in an organisation:

Cluttered systems, outdated processes, people in poorly matched roles, culture and environment, double handling, micro managing and the list can go on…. Don’t just look at the ‘who’ but also the ‘what’ these things can be about people but also about systems and processes.

Until these things that clutter a person’s space, mind, and process of working are pruned the real fruit cannot thrive and reach its potential and like our tomato plant the fruit can rot and go mouldy when laterals are left to run wild.

When managers, leaders and business owners are trapped into ‘putting out the fires’ that these ‘laterals’ produce often daily, they cannot possibly focus on things that will gain a better long-term productivity profile.

The business or organisation goes into ‘survival mode’ and everyone just scrambles to get work off their desk, mostly feeling a sinking sense of overwhelm and claustrophobia that consumes any creativity or clarity to function well.

When we do prune the ‘laterals’:

  • Light gets in to the things that need it the most
  • Nutrients get to the branches that matter
  • There is room to grow, strong and healthy
  • The plant is productive and successful in producing fruit

What to do:

  1. Take a day out to examine and reflect, use a coach or mentor, the purpose is to see what laterals need ‘pruning’ to allow more light in, more nutrients in and encourage better productivity.
  2. Put a timeline in place with actions that will implement the changes
  3. Focus on what CAN be done right away, it is sometimes the smallest things that make the biggest difference.
  4. Prune regularly, schedule it in, with the tomato if I forget to do this for a few weeks, things get choked up again fast. It easier to prune a few a week rather than let it get overrun and take double the time to clear things again.

Happy pruning


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3 Things I Love About Conflict – 5 Tips For Moving Through

Did you already have a reaction to that word? If so you are not alone!

Let me clarify, not all conflict is useful or productive.

There is the nasty, pointless, destructive type – and then there is the regular old type that happens when people are just being people.

The regular type I call ‘potentially healthy conflict’, why potentially? Because it only becomes healthy when there are two sides who have the desire to move forward, move through to the other side whatever that may look like. Those who view it is a tool, a starting point for change often understand that conflict can be healthy.

Bad news for those who have decided, for whatever reason, that they don’t like conflict and have labelled all conflict as bad, scary, or even dangerous. A happy healthy live living and working with other humans cannot exist well on a functional level without the conflict.

We are all people who have been created differently, we are all unique in many ways, so there will be conflict arising from just that fact alone.

Don’t aim to be right – Aim for better understanding

How about inviting it in, getting to know it, re name it, expand your tool kit to deal with it better, learn how to use it as a tool.

I recently decided to re name the conversational side of conflict ‘Robust discussions’ Be willing to go there, have that important robust discussion.

3 Things I Love:

  1. Conflict shows we are all different and that is a GREAT thing! Let’s celebrate our strengths and differences – learn that we need each other’s strengths to make great teams and relationships.
  2. Conflict can provide the opportunity to grow, learn and gain greater understanding and knowledge about situations and people. It can bring perspective if we are willing. Knowledge and understanding are powerful things.
  3. Conflict, when dealt with in a healthy way, with good practice, framework, planning and support can lead to breakthrough that may not have happened had that ‘robust essential conversation’ had not taken place.

5 tips for being more open those robust discussions:

  1. Plan your conversations, what is your common desired outcome? What are the facts? What is the real issue without personal opinion or bias? How is the other person feeling? What are they thinking? What is their real intention?
  2. Practice using different words, if your conversations are not going well, have a think about the language you are using – both verbal and nonverbal (body language, facials and tone).
  3. Never assume anything about another person or situation, assumptions are among the top things that can cause negative conflict and reactions. Instead ASK questions like, ‘what did you mean when you…?’ ‘Can I ask if my assumption about this is correct..?’ or ‘ I would just like to clarify..’ ‘Can/may I ask what your intention is here?’
  4. Pick your time carefully, poor timing can lead to things spiralling, is the person busy? Tired? Are there others around? NOTE: A meeting is rarely a good place to work through something personal with something. Naming and shaming is NEVER a good idea.
  5. Consider the mode of delivery, is it appropriate? There are so many ways we can have ‘robust discussion’s now. Email, Txt message, instant message, intranet message, by phone and in person. My experience is that all Robust discussions must be had as close to in person as you can get, face to face is always best where possible, failing that on the phone. It is OK to follow up with an email to confirm anything you need to be in writing but there is FAR too much room for mi interpretation in written words to have the whole discussion that way. The mess can become bigger than it ever needed to be

Be Brave, Be Conscious, Be Compassionate,

Be authentic and honest, Be willing.

Remember: It doesn’t have to be right or wrong, it can be just perspectives that differ

Now go have that next robust discussion, you never know what may open as a result, and it is never as ‘bad as you thought’ it would be