What’s On Your “No List”?

When we’re out for a meal, we typically often know – usually immediately – what we don’t feel like having. The same phenomenon is common when spring-cleaning our garage or deleting emails. It’s a simple fact that we have a solid trust in our feelings when it comes to what we don’t want.



But not all experiences are born equal; declining opportunities in business and life are not always as self-evident as deleting an email from your Inbox. Our optimistic nature is notorious for leading us to accept experiences – and sometimes people – we could have survived without.  



Bad experiences can cause a negative impact that exceeds potential value, leaves a bad taste that lingers beyond the time we spent suffering it hijacks future opportunities. Lacking the ability to say “no” at the right time can deplete your efficiency and time management. In time, it may harm your integrity in the eyes of your clients or significant people in your work or life.



Therefore, pursuing a business or personal goal without a “no list” isn’t much different from running it without a plan altogether.



What goes on a “No List”?



Just like goals, to define a “No List”, you need to start from knowing yourself (your drivers, your style, and your unique capabilities) as well as your environments. Here are some common areas that have arisen when conducting the @me interviews:



  • Situations requiring soft skills that you don’t enjoy or may not even have. It may be conflict resolution, self-starting or competencies like training others.
  • Situations requiring behavioural traits that you personally do not aspire or adhere to. These could be characteristics like urgency, being competitive or unpredictable. They can be suitable for some businesses and people more than others.
  • Jobs or tasks that are too big or too small for your goals.
  • Unnecessary time with energy-vampires: people with a style of communication or a set of values that keep you on edge and negatively affects your focus and productivity.
  • Employers, leaders, teams, or clients that:
    • Work at a pace that does not suit you or your business.
    • Reward values/expectations that do not motivate you.
    • Do not provide challenges that inspire you.
  • Clients or services that are:
    • Far from your niche.
    • Too rigid or have a loose scope of work.
  • Wrong time: Any time that you know it to be a bad time for making decisions, thinking or working on your goals. This can be a time of the day, around requiring events (Mondays, end of month, prime/ dead season) or during exceptional occurrences.
  • Wrong place: If a location is too busy, quiet, formal, relaxed, etc. for you to do business or personal engagement that can hinder the quality of any work.



Building Your “No List”



Here are some suggestions to consider:



  • Reflect on negative experiences and ask what went wrong and how it could have been avoided.
  • Ask for feedback from clients, employers, friends and family; the right question to the right people can be a shortcut to know what to avoid in order to make better decisions and having stronger impact.
  • Conduct a behavioural assessment to identify and accept your traits and preferences.
  • Know your goals and ask what may hinder your commitment or delay them; involve others that you trust – mentors or coaches.



Some final thoughts on your “No List”



  • Revisit your list often. Like most things, it can grow old or obsolete, so make sure to keep it relevant.
  • Be deliberate about knowing your “No List”. Dedicate enough time, write it down, and include it in your job search, business plan negotiation or decision-making.
  • Say NO more often.
  • Share your “No List”. It’s hard for others to abide by, respect or improve your list if they don’t know about it.
  • Don’t say “NO” just because you don’t know. A common mistake is to include experiences in your “No List” they’re different. But remember your list is based on knowing yourself, your goals, and your options: you can’t gain bona fide knowledge without engagement.
  • Deal with your Nos. Know your limits and have a plan (mentally and physically) to deal with your NO list as a risk. Besides trying to avoid a particular issue, prepare ways you can reduce it, transfer it or accept it.



A few last words: think positively about your “No List”. People, experiences and values that we do not associate with also define us and our business as much as our goals and beliefs.


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