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Hack Your Boss

Hack Your Boss

Here are thoughts on what your boss wants, based on experiences I’ve had. These are always subjective lists, and no, I don’t know YOUR boss personally. But I’ll tell you from the perspective of how I’ve best managed my bosses in the past, and how I’ve wanted things done when I’ve been in charge. Your mileage may vary.

Your Boss Wants…

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  • you to “get it” quickly, develop a plan quickly, and then take action.
  • you to clear all the smaller roadblocks yourself, exercising creativity without burning down the business.
  • you to execute without asking too many questions.
  • your unique talents to augment her efforts, not require her time and affection.
  • you to try looking from the Boss perspective at your project now and again.
  • you to anticipate a little.
  • warning flags early enough to step in and fix things, if need be.
  • you to keep her posted, but not pestered. (Communicate the big things).
  • to know when to act, and when to recommend.

By the same token, there are things that don’t make life easy for your boss. And by the way, “Boss” can be supervisor, board of directors if you’re the CEO, your customers if you’re a work-for-yourself type. You can stretch the definition, if you want to stretch the meaning. Here are some things your boss DOESN’T want.

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Your Boss Doesn’t Want…

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  • dead mice left on the pillow. (If you’re a cat owner, this makes sense).
  • low-level problems you technically should be able to handle.
  • every micro piece of status, especially the ones you fix but COULD’VE been a bomb.
  • to be left in the dark, either.
  • “I tried, but couldn’t get it done in time.” (See warning flags above)
  • to be part of your family, as much as a friendly colleague. Even if they SAY family.
  • your dramas to become her dramas.

Well there. I’ve said what came right to mind, but I *know* that I’ve left out some choice ideas on both sides of this spectrum. Come on, skillful life hackers! What can we add to this post on both sides of the spectrum? And please point out where you think my advice would get you fired. That would also be interesting.

–Chris Brogan works for Network2 and keeps a blog at [chrisbrogan.com]. For the record, his own personal boss wants a LOT more than he listed, but that would be cheating. : )

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

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.

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.

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.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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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.

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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,

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“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,

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“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.

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Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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