Yesaholics Anonymous

My wife and I are in the final stages of building our new home. We’re in the ninth month of a four-month project, so I believe the job is almost done.

While my contractor does fabulous work, he didn’t honor his timelines. At least he’s the only one who accrues expenses for every additional day. Well, not exactly.

In truth, this project was always a nine-month project, but he didn’t want to tell me that. He wanted to keep me “happy.” My contractor thought telling me what I wanted to hear would make me happy: happy I had to extend my stay in temporary housing; happy I’m billed every additional month for storage; happy I’m paying my mortgage and utilities without living in my home; happy my wife and I planned our lives around a four-month timeline. I’m the furthest thing from being “happy.”

You will make more money, have happier customers, and generate more referrals if you would simply be honest. I’m not suggesting that my contractor is lying. I trust him 100 percent. I’m suggesting being honest about what you know to be true and sharing it with your customers, even if the customer may not like what you’re saying.

For example, have you ever said “yes” when you should say “no?” Do you have a hard time telling customers the truth about how long a project may actually take or cost? Do you withhold information in fear of a confrontation or losing a sale? Is your schedule frequently overbooked? If so, you may be a “Yesaholic.”

When you instinctually say “yes” without considering whether you can realistically deliver on that timeline or expectation, you always have the best intentions in mind. You believe you can “do it all.” Yet, think about what happens when you’re not able to honor that promise?

Saying “no” is often perceived as a bad thing. After all, you don’t want to say “no” and fear letting someone down, looking bad or losing a sale. The irony is, if you inevitably say “yes” all the time to keep everyone happy and don’t follow through with your commitments, you wind up creating what you wanted to avoid from the start. That is, you let others down and create stressful situations that cost time, money and problems by continually overcommitting and not delivering! Being honest and honoring your boundaries (saying “no”) is an attractive trait. You’ll find that more people will hire you. People respect those who have strong boundaries.

The next time someone asks you to do something, give yourself the time to process by saying, “Let me check my schedule and I will get back to you” or, “Thanks for the opportunity. I will consider it.” Then, ask yourself these five questions before you respond. This would have saved my contractor $32,200.00.

  1. “Is this something I want to do?”
  2. “Is this something I have to do?” (It supports my goals, priorities, etc.)
  3. “Can I meet this person’s expectations?”
  4. “Do I have time for this?” (Should other jobs take priority?)
  5. “What is a reasonable deadline/expectation I can commit to in the worst-case scenario?” (If you plan for the worst, you build buffers into your schedule that enable you to handle unforeseen problems.)

After practicing this a few times you’ll see the benefits. Your life will became easier and more simplified once you eliminate the problems that result from over-committing. Remember, either you run your life or other people and circumstances will.