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Sugar coating isn’t always the best diet

Sugar coating isn’t always the best diet

When we fail to provide all of the details involved in a task in which we are seeking assistance, we often set misguided expectations without even realizing it. We are potentially setting ourselves up for failure. An individual isn’t going to perform how you expect if he or she isn’t receiving all the information required to be successful. We tend to “sugar coat” task instructions because of the higher likelihood of it being accepted by a peer. This is not always the best way, and I’ll explain why.

When we are assigned a task or seeking a favor, we are not always honest about what is involved. “Sugar coating” is when you make the amount of work involved seems very minimal, almost effortless. It is a terrible practice and will almost always result negatively. We need to always be upfront and honest when seeking assistance.

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“It’s all in your approach”

The way you position the project to the receiver is key. The way you approach someone with a task often decides right away the outcome. We may even find ourselves procrastinating when we know the individual isn’t going to be too fond of what’s involved. If we are sugar coating the work and time involved, we aren’t allowing for proper preparation. Sugar coating will likely lead to possible failure, and frustration with the results. Always ask the right person and be sure to explain the importance of the task. It is also a great idea to periodically check to see if the project is going in the right direction. This ensures the project is progressing how you envisioned.

Like anything else, when we approach with a positive attitude we are more likely to achieve what we seek. If you find yourself procrastinating, think about the positive outcome that will come with completion. Ask for assistance from someone that you work well with and can guarantee great results.

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But how?

An example that instantly jumps into mind is when I need assistance with Excel spreadsheets. More often then not, I find myself seeking help from a co-worker. I approach Eric in an upfront manner, usually with a smile. I am sure to tell him exactly what I am looking to have done, and what he should expect. This way Eric will know right away whether or not it is something that he is capable of. Working together to plan and visualize the intended outcome can help clear any cloudiness and misconception. I always make sure that I keep steady contact throughout the days leading up to the project deadline. This helps assure me that the task is progressing and that I can expect positive results from it.

I ignore the fact that I am unable to personally complete the task. I seek assistance from someone I know is capable, but also has the time. I am sure to ask someone who is going to give me great work but will also take instruction well. My approach is always positive, and I am sure to share all details.

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Conclusion

When you are approaching someone with a task, always be clear. Be sure to provide details regarding the work involved and the time needed. We tend to find ourselves lacking in detail in order to make the project seem less tedious. Sugar coating often leads to negative results, which can result in disciplinary action in some cases. Always be upfront and thorough about what you need. Do not lack in detail, and be sure to keep yourself updated throughout the process. Promising results will only come if we make sure they are on their way, and track the progression..

Featured photo credit: picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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