Sticky Notes: How to Say, “Yes”

Every “Yes” is a commitment, and every commitment deserves to be taken seriously and honored with a good plan and focused execution.

“Yes” is where all the action is. “Yes” should mark the beginning of a collaboration—the next steps in a working relationship.

Remember, every good “No” is there just to set up your great “Yeses”—such as saying, “Yes,” to collaboration and saying, “Yes,” to an opportunity to add value and build a relationship.

Every “Yes” deserves a plan for focused execution. The execution plan is the key to a great “Yes.” Some “Yeses” are short and sweet, but they still deserve a plan, however short and sweet. Every “Yes” is a commitment, and every commitment deserves to be taken seriously and honored with a good plan and focused execution.

Don’t Take the Details for Granted

If you have done a good job tuning in to the ask, doing an intake memo, and framing the ask in terms of the basic elements of a proposal, and seriously considered the “No” gates, including an ROI analysis, then you should have a pretty good idea of what you are committing to when you say, “Yes.” Still, if you are not yet accustomed to working together with the asker—if they are not one of your regular customers or co-workers—there will be plenty of details to clarify about how you are going to do business together. Don’t take the details for granted or you likely will have one small surprise after another.

“Yes” is the time to pin down the commitment with a plan of action, especially for a deliverable of any scope. Then the challenge becomes: How do you move the conversation from “Yes” to a plan?

Ask the platinum question: “How can I help YOU help ME help YOU?”

What ground rules will you establish for working together? What will be your cadence of communication—where, when, and how? Who is going to do what, where, why, when, and how?

Agree on the sequence, timing, and ownership of all the steps. End every conversation by clarifying who owns which next steps and scheduling your next follow-up conversation. The punch line is always the next steps. Plan the work so you can work your plan.

Bruce Tulgan is a best-selling author and CEO of RainmakerThinking, the management research, consulting, and training firm he founded in 1993. All of his work is based on 27 years of intensive workplace interviews and has been featured in thousands of news stories around the world. His newest book, “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work: Win Influence, Beat Overcommitment, and Get the Right Things Done”( Harvard Business Review Press) is available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major booksellers. Follow Tulgan on Twitter @BruceTulgan or visit his Website at: