People work for many reasons. For me the workaholic journey started from the idea of covering the basic resource needs. I just wanted to pay for the food. Later it became mostly self-realization thingy.
Work is not the only thing needed for a healthy being. Spending quality time with family, side projects, working out etc is also important. For all of that we need some spare resources: time, attention, willpower. Working from home is an incredible setup allowing to boost all of the areas having a more productive employee as a result.
This post was inspired by a recent offering to work on the other side of the city (no remoting), so I’ve decided to evaluate the benefits involved. By the way, you can also check out my story of starting to work remotely.
Whenever I commute in Kiev, it takes 1 hour regardless of where I go to. If something takes more than that, I consider the thing to be outside of Kiev : )
5 times a week an hour to the work plus an hour to return makes 10 hours total. Thus I will spent 10 more hours not on my side projects: 40 + 10 = 50 hrs.
The place I currently live in has everything I need in walking distance: groceries, gym, a few cafes for when we don’t feel like cooking, farmer’s market, my driving school, self-government.
When the infrastructure at work goes down and I exhaust all the ways to make that live again, I just go ahead and do something from my personal task list.
Having to commute somewhere in such cases makes mental barrier higher so just slacking off in the office seems like an easier strategy. I don’t like life setups encouraging things which are not effective long term.
Leveraging the productive time
There are hours when our bodies tell us we’re ready for something in particular and there are hours we feel otherwise.
If I feel like working during the commute time – that productive urge is being lost. The advantage of having the ability to work from home is just that. I can do productive work whenever I feel tike that.
Similarly, when I feel bad, I can have a short nap, work without leaving my bed or do all of that in my favorite pajama in the midst of the day.
Stable energy supply
A few years ago I’ve discovered that eating regularly is very important for my wellbeing. Whenever I’m hungry, I’m more reactive (prone to screaming at people) and less productive.
I guess some of the companies have food catered just because of this reason (yay google with their supplies).
Apart from the feeling good at work, eating regularly allows me to feel good after the work, in my spare time – this is not visible on the time sheets but allows me to sustain a good pace in the long run.
At home place it’s much easier for me to arrange steady supply of foods.
Whenever flu season comes, the public transportation is filled with infected people. Similarly are the offices (especially if your company does not allow working from home while urging the employees to meet deadlines and client commitments).
This year I’m spending a lot of time at home and I didn’t had any of that yet. Last year I’ve been sick at least 2 times while having only once per week office volunteering gig (tutoring kids).
Infrastructure investments are easier to make
From the stuff I’ve observed it is common for companies (yay outsourcing) to put their offices on the outskirts and / or put off installing improved AC’s.
I even have a story in my past where I was not very fond of our AC equipment, found a system to fix that but the thing never happened because of the difficulties involved with the building owner and stuff.
At my home I can do much more with much less hustle. Also it’s rather cool to upgrade both my home and working environment with the same actions (yay standing desk made of cardboard!). Me being happy in this respect too are a direct result of being interested and having this control in the same time.
By the way, me not being in the office means somebody else can be there, in the end less space rented more moneys saved.
Better control over reachability / interruptions
Open space offices are also full of distractions. I can ask my teammates to give me a break for a few hours but that does not prevent people from other teams from reaching out for something.
Working from home is just like having my own personal office in this respect: I turn the Skype off once decided to have some productive time et voila – I can code up a decent chunk of something even in the middle of a day.
Ability to work from home also allows us to change bases. Grabbing the whole team to chill at a beach bar is awesome bonding experience as well as a nice refresher for a tired brain.
The other side of the table
I know that allowing people to work remotely feels dangerous as you have much less control over people.
I’ve been in team leading positions with people being on the other side the Earth a few times. Some people tend to work well in such circumstances, other tend to slack off. Herding people to the offices doesn’t solve this problem completely too (especially if you have Xbox there).
I also recognize WFH is not a silver bullet. What I would like to say here is that value of allowing to work from home is tremendous. Use it discreetly to win / reward talent.
Bad, good and the unexpected
This week I had a conversation with another company who seems like a good cultural fit. They have a work from home policy but encourage people to work from the office.
I love the style: instead of putting regulations which enforce your presence, the environment is just built in a way where it feels good to visit the office.
Interestingly enough, I feel compelled with the thing. Let’s see where will I be in a year from now : )
- People don’t share your exciting toddler video that much
- They don’t show up on your awesome park cleanup party
- Don’t buy coffee from your shiny machine
- Don’t download your super useful app
And you’re like “Why don’t they – I love that shit, that’s why I’m sharing!”. You’re kind of right with this but only in your pretty little world.
Recently I’ve decided to change my life a bit by starting a side project of my own. The idea is to have a vending machine serving quick and healthy meals at low cost (and eventually becoming free for people through cross-subsidizing that). I imagined everybody being customer of my service in the sense that everybody gets hungry on a regular basis (my time for that is 2 hours).
Long term vision is to demonetize food supply if you know what I mean :D. Don’t bother, the previous sentence is just a bunch is startup slang.
Short term is to have buckwheat vending machine to satisfy my demand.
Image: rice and curry
Marketing, go away!
“Our product is for everybody. Thus our market is the world and we’re aiming to get 1% of that really soon” (c)
When I hear this from other people, I consider it a rookie startup mistake. It was very insightful moment for me to discover the same line of thinking in my brain. If you’re a software engineer, marketing is not trivial :)
Luckily I have a very good UX designer friend. I initially approached him with the hope of making the device smoother for use by people (“I have a great product, let’s make it feel like Apple-grade design”).
As an unexpected result, he also made me think hard about identifying a very small group of the early adopters for my product (people call this segmenting your customers).
What for segmentation is needed?
In my case, the thing is that once I will get my device on the streets, not everybody will be similarly likely to use it in the first days (hey, I still don’t have a Pinterest account and they’re on the market for years with all the marketing and stuff).
Lack of initial followers is what poses a problem for a young startupling. By default most of the people assume that actions of other people reflect a correct behavior (google for Social Proof). Not using your new service is thus a correct behavior. Which we know is not good for business :)
Image: adopters curve per diffusion innovation theory.
I read this picture as the following: as a marketer, I should identify a group of people which can be the most easily convinced to use my service. By ease I mean with as small budget as possible.
Another cool group to be attracted early are those who are eager to pay upfront. Usually that means people are having acute problem of some sort which costs them a lot of time, money and/or their mood. This makes them benefit from my success which is a recipe for strong support.
So how to do that initial customer segmentation?
Unfortunately for nerds (wink to myself), you have to interact with people. Asking open questions about their problem and listening (basically interviews). A few ones I used for my Grechkomat concept:
- Tell me how do you usually extinguish your hunger while on the go?
- How do you choose places to grab some food at?
- What are the things you like about them?
- What are the things you’re missing when you’re on the go and willing to have some food?
- What is important for you in fast food?
- Can you name a few specific places you go to? (yay competitor research!)
- How much time you spend to prepare a snack for yourself?
- How much you’re making per hour (range estimates here, e.g. north of $10/hour so people would be more likely to answer)?
There are two things you most possibly would like to have here:
- Enough of variety (randomness) in the people, so the opinions you receive will allow you to learn more
- Enough of people interviewed
- My fried told me that ~10 people is enough for qualitative interviews if you’re verifying a particular hypothesis (e.g. in my case gym visitors are likely to grab my snack after working out).
- For quantitative ones you’ll need to get ~100 people to get somewhat plausible numbers
Our focus here is to confirm that people have a problem / need. Most probably you’ll discover a few of them. Or will discover the one you were solving is a thing which happens once a year or has a workaround.
Don’t focus on your product: no keywords, descriptions, nothing. Usually people are supportive of the new and risky things you do so they will compliment you and the idea.
Nerd time: talking to unknown people
Just be aware of the fact that at some point you’ll be talking to a lot of unknown people in person and that will be a lot of fun!
There are some hacks to get you started:
- Do that on the internet (especially if you’re isolated from people e.g. by means of a service like Google Consumer Surveys with ~$300 / survey)
- Do that to the people you already know (but be mindful of the compliments)
- Adjust your mindset with Geeks guide to starting a conversation
- Make people talk to you :D
After proper interviewing you inevitably will discover a few typical things people want. Different groups (segments) will want different things. Pick one and work on reaching out to those people (that’s called targeting).
In the startup world (“let’s quickly get rich!”), people often pick the most impacting:
Impact = Frequency x Density (how many people) x Cost
Similarly everything you do in your personal life has a ‘target customer’ and is essentially an offering to a problem:
- Your blog aligns best with certain people
- Your Facebook profile is liked by certain people more than the others
- Your social initiatives are supported by a certain set of people more than others
Understand who are the people around you and your business. Who are the ones you would like to have more of. Now work on bridging the gap between the two. Being persistent with your presentation allow you to have more of those you want.
Meanwhile in the ideal world of customer development…
Steve Blank and all the other guys want you to understand who your customer is before building anything costly. In this world…
- Super useful app are never created until you have your first 1000 users registered
- Coffee machines are never installed until you’ve found out where is that place having enough of people liking your coffee
- E-commerce shops are not created in the niches you don’t know size for
- And you share toddler photos to your toddler lovers list and nobody else :D
This world is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed :)
Learn from others
Observe what do you read in the marketing e-mails / messages / posts you’re observing.
- Who the author is talking to? Is that a guy or a girl mentioned more often in the stories?
- Does the author mention a lifestyle specific to only a group of people you know?
- If the pains and situations outlined in the e-mail do not concern you much, which group of people could resonate with that?
- Do you think vocabulary used there is more likely to appeal to a particular group of people?
People which tend to invest some money into refining their speeches are much easier targets to play this game on:
- Politicians, appealing to problems of concrete groups of people (“Factories will be working again”)
- Personal coaches, reaching out to audience able and willing to pay for their advice (“So you have a stable business which stopped growing and you’re wondering what can be done about it…”)
Learn from yourself
- Who is the person you imagine when you write a particular post?
- What would you like them to do / learn / understand after reading your creation?
Segment every day
- If you’re working for hire, would you prioritize solving problems for:
- your team members?
- your boss?
- your colleagues across the division?
- a group of people using a particular technology?
- a group of people supporting a particular methodology?
- When you post on facebook / twitter / instagram / blog are you aiming at:
- potential business partners to contact you?
- previous clients which you’d like to buy another product of yours?
- your ex-university mates to appreciate you?
- When you’re designing a promotion campaign for your business, are you targeting:
- people which tend to free-ride on it often?
- people buying ’emotionally’?
- proven customers which you can upsell to?
- When you bake a pie, are you targeting:
- sweet teeth people?
- people which are very much into sports and healthy nutrition?
What is very beautiful here is that a single person can potentially belong to multiple groups. Thus you can target and nurture a particular behavior you’re interested in (changing people’s behaviors!).
But I blog just for my own pleasure, why would I bother thinking about segmentation?
– It’s even more important to decide on what you would like yourself to look like. You can be just anything, I know, but I bet there is a particular kind of yourself you’d like to be more of – target that and that will fill amazing!
I haven’t done any of that and I have a lot of customers, is that relevant?
– Congratulations! Just remember about segmentation and targeting when you’ll decide to grow. My numbers show that learning in advance pays off.
How can I come up with questions for my survey?
– Google for 5W’s framework. Basically who, when, where and why might need your product. What is their solution now?
I just felt today that I had a very little amount of moments in my life when I did some bullshit consciously. Even more, I thought that most people do little to no bullshit consciously too. The most important part here is that bullshit is a very relative concept (the same thing can be brilliant for me when I’m stuffed with energetics and very bullshit once I’m tired).
This dude does no bullshit
Those folks do no bullshit
What’s interesting, I can imagine how each of the examples from the above can say that the other example is doing bullshit. Professor is tinkering with a weird thingy which can be bullshit if viewed from the point of you of the guys. Guys presumably like to punch other guys which can be bullshit from the point of view of the professor.
Today I’ve figured that our rejection to do bullshit actually limits us.
People suffer from the same problems for years, because (almost quoting real people):
- Trainings are bullshit
- Coaches are bullshit
- Paying moneyz where I can do myself for free and better is bullshit – that’s stereotypically very american thing
- Doctors, medicines and vaccinations are bullshit – in the old days people were ok without these
- Being vegan is bullshit
- Eating animal flesh is bullshit
- Politics is bullshit
I won’t be asking you to enroll for a training, buying a course or hiring a coach in your gym. Start simple:
- Try returning back home using another route than you’re used to
- If you’ll see somebody doing bullshit – be curious and ask them what is the idea of that and try the thing for yourself
You can share your findings here. I bit you more of useful bullshit in your life.
For quite a while I was stalking my ex. Actually each of them. Actually I was not only stalking my ex-girlfriends, I was also stalking my ex-colleagues for quite a while (hi, peoples, social media makes that easy :D ).
I thought that’s my personal problem until I’ve realized (after googling) that’s what a lot of people do.
As neurological study suggests, staring at a photo of your ex, triggers reward systems in your brain regardless of whether one is happily or unhappily in love. So first thing is to stop worrying. You’re normal.
Probably each of us was going trough this a number of times, so below are the tricks I’ve learned. Don’t forget to share yours ^_^
1. The deadline
The idea is to allow yourself to monitor your ex’es activity for quite a while and then quit. Similarly to “quitting smoking tomorrow” this won’t work just because there always will be another tomorrow. Also why wait with this?
I’ve tried this a number of times, also observed my friends doing this with little to no success. I don’t think this is a worthwhile method as it’s often ending up with a lot of guilt to carry for not making it.
2. Blacklist / unfriend
I’ve never tried this mostly because of the consequences I was afraid of. We share a lot of friends and blacklisting people would probably lead to our common friends asking what forced me to do so.
Even if social pressure is not a problem for you, other people reminding you of your ex is something which probably won’t really help to let them go.
Also this one is hard to apply to other obsessions – how do I blacklist alcohol?
I’ve learned this trick from my favorite procrastinatolog doctor’s blog.
The idea is to continue with your obsessions but make it slightly less convenient. E.g. in case of Facebook:
- Delete mobile app
- Log off from the desktop browsers
- Use only mobile versions of the mobile apps (e.g. m.facebook.com) –> no notifications!
- Remove browser icon from the main screen so you have to look for it
- Also for Facebook I use News Feed Eradicator plugin for Chrome which hides the most dangerous part from me
Generalizing it further, in this method you reverse engineer tricks the product developers use to make your obsession closer to you and sandbag these.
For more ways you’re tricked to use apps more you can read How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds (this click can cost you 20 minutes of your life :D )
4. Conscious one
The idea here is not to expect anything from yourself and just observe what do you feel / think about when doing the thing you’d like to quit doing.
Good thing is that you’ll learn about yourself and your obsession more. Also it’s the most guilt free of the techniques here. Thus I recommend it as a healthy addition to the other attempts.
Bad thing is that quitting may be postponed indefinitely. But why bother about that while you’re learning?
5. Realize that you’re already there
My TLDR of Allen Carr’s books (helping with quitting smoking, overeating, …) is basically: you’re already there. At the moment you’re reading my article and not doing the thing you’re quitting, so you’re a free person.
Your next step is to realize that you’re already good and enjoy this state (pretty much like ‘conscious one’ but paying attention to what it feels like to be free of the obsession).
Common problem: comebacks
One thing you should know about me before reading this further is that I’m a kind of professional quitter. I quit smoking (I guess 6th time now :D), quit adding sugar to my tea, quit computer games, quit unhealthy relationships, …, you name it.
Thus I can generalize that there are two modes of quitting:
- quitting to let go of something because it’s ‘bad’
- quitting to make some room for the stuff you’d like to pull into your life
Quick experiment: try keeping your mind clean of all thoughts for a while and then try to think about whatever you’d like to have soon (I thought about yachting or burritos).
In my case nurturing an idea I like (2nd thing) works much better than keeping a piece of my mind clean of anything.
In my case most of the methods from the above were following the 1st approach. It’s ‘bad’ so I’ll quit it. Once my willpower was depleted, I usually was able to negotiate with myself and ‘bad’ things became ‘decent’ and there I was again following my obsessions. That’s what comeback basically is.
Here you’ll put something rewarding in place of the habit you had. We’ll still trigger our
If you’re obsessed over an ex-partner, get a few new awesome friends to hang out with (or befriend a few celebrities like Mr. Bieber – they’re used to a lot of attention :D ).
If you’re quitting consuming unhealthy amount of foods, learn to have a healthy drink instead (mine is lemon water).
If you’re letting go of computer games, grab a new freelance client or an awesome volunteering gig for something you’re passionate about (look mom, I’m earning new moneys!).
If you’re quitting having evening cocktails, a trustable fitness trainer and a training buddy e.g. from Fitior will help you (I totally quit that thing after learning that alcohol consumption impedes muscle growth and I dream of VinDiesel-like-body :D ). Also a whole bunch of highly addictive jogging clubs are available in large cities.
Once the old habit is gone, you probably will be able to let go of your new one but I’ve never did that until I’ve found even better ones. So the substitution is usually about getting even more stimulating thing discovered – be careful :)
I have a new *-friend but I’m still looking at the photos of my ex, what do I do?
Enjoy it while you can! ^_^
People generally get crazy if left for enough time isolated in confined groups.
One of the things I do over and over again is traveling with people. I did a lot of variations starting from a half-a-day in suburbs to half a year long hopping across the globe. Both friend and girlfriends. And we all were getting mad at each other :)
Some of the travels made me closer to these people, some of the travels tore our relationships apart. Now time has come to do this again, so you, my dear reader can reap the benefits of my experiences without all the tears of your travel buddy :)
TLDR: Give the link to this post to the friend you’re going to travel with to make it better for all of you :)
Be prepared :D
Hostels will loose their bookings. Metro will close right before you’re able to make the commute. Evernote and gmail will decline to display cached pages. Flights will be canceled and/or delayed. Cards will be rejected. Favorite things will be stolen and lost (people also can lose each other!).
Some of these happened to my friends and some of these happened to me. To survive all the problems of a travel, be like a space ship: duplicate all the things.
- Every document should both exist in written and electronic form
- Same applies for money, both small bills and electronic cards
- All of these stored separately
- The most important bits never leaving your body
Accept stuff which is bigger than you
Once you’ve prepared all the thing you was able / wanted to prepare for, there’s still hell of a lot of things which gonna happen.
If you feel like crying – do so. If you’re angry (or hungry, like I get all the time) – let somebody know while you still can do that in a calmed in controlled manner. Worst thing you can do is spending your energy to make appearance that everything is ok.
Breaking the rule usually leads to dumping 3 weeks worth of suppressed feelings onto your fellow traveler. Bad for everyone involved.
This also means that you should accept yourself as you are. If you don’t know where’s our train, or where are we – let the group know rather than try to play a cool captain (even if you lead this particular group).
We’re all in the same boat and nobody expects you to know everything.
Keep the balance
While traveling you’ll be far from most of the resources which usually support your self confidence:
- Family, friends will be far away, similarly your image of a successful person :)
- Work. Doing that remotely is still something not everybody is granted with. Plus it can be trickier to maintain your performance while working off a shitty 3g internet somewhere in jungles, trust me. So if you imagine yourself a good colleague, be ready for that to be gone :)
- Work out routines will need to be re-established (I had times visiting up to 3 no-longer-existing gyms per day to find a one for myself)
- New foods and climates will affect your health depending on your luck (e.g. you can get 5-days dengue fever preventing you from sleep or mild indigestion)
In such conditions it is common to look for the support in people nearby. Continuous demands can easily strain your partners, so be careful (remember, they’re in around the same situation as you are).
That’s where the notion of emotional bank account comes into play. Whenever somebody does me good, I can feel like I’m up to doing more good for them, similarly whenever somebody asks (or demands) a lot of help from me often, I will be feeling like the amount of good I’m willing to do for them is reduced.
If that’s your first wild travel, be especially careful: habits which you form now will predate you (or support you) until the very end of your life. Another important thing is that most probably you’ll feel like you need a lot of assistance. It’s up to you to decide how much of a helplessness you will root in yourself.
So, once my usual self-confidence is gone, I feel like growing some new. The simplest way for me to do so is by learning how to get to home (tent, apartment, shack, …). In most places this can be achieved by buying a sim card with 3g data. On lightning in a bottle, though, I had to spend some time exploring the territory :D
Having that, it is much easier to support the balances: I don’t need a person attached to me to try the stuff I like (Darling, let’s go to a zoo [as I don’t know how to return from there]).
Next step is usually taking care of some shared stuff. Taking your friend(s) to a cafe both counts as a contribution to your emotional bank account as well a proves (to yourself) that you’re capable of more.
Next time you’re gonna travel with friends, just observe who’s the first one to take you somewhere and how do you feel about them.
Embrace your fears
After taking care of some basics, it’s usually time to challenge yourself a bit. Cool if you can do that in a controlled manner (e.g. when somebody more experienced is around). That’s not required, though.
Being introverted, my first fear is about talking to people. So I try to talk those who are already interested in conversations with me: sales people. Being a guy which loves to eat, I just approach any food truck / cafe and I’m done.
Pick something you both like and a bit uncomfortable to do and you’re good to go.
Sometimes, the thing can prove itself difficult (e.g. approaching a cute girl in the office). What worked cool for me in such cases is imagining what I will do next time (all the exact steps, phrases said, you can even write that somewhere just for kicks!). For some reason brain can be trained well even using such a hypothetical scenarios, so after a while, I prove myself capable of doing tricky things. So are you.
What are the tricks you use to make your social travels feel better?
Networking. I’ve never seen it working for me. It’s not something particularly practiced among people I hang out with in Ukraine, so I had no one to borrow habits from.
I read a few books, printed out a few hundred business cards and ‘Traditional’ understanding of networking didn’t work well for me: follow up rates on business cards which I tossed out were depressingly low (capped at 20 people on 300 cards).
Once upon a time, I was reflecting on time spent traditionally networking (read this as: speaking at conferences, exchanging business cards, volunteering, …). And I realized.
My greatest introductions actually happened by chance (I don’t think anybody was actually thinking of the N* word). But what was similar in all of the cases:
- we were having fun time together
- we’ve discovered common interests
- and identified things to learn from each other
Measuring stuff was the thing which derailed me a lot: it’s not the number of people in the network, which matters but the number of intersections in our goals we’ve discovered!
Why network if I’m not following up, not sharing the goals or even have no goals at all? I remember 3 intros by Alex which were well intended but led nowhere just because of this reason. People seemingly had common interests but invested time into another set of objectives.
Networking in the network
From time to time I’ve spotted people in my friend list on Facebook which I can’t say a thing about. Easiest thing would be to drop the strangers but why not benefit from the occasion?
So I’ve decided to sift through my contacts, get all the inactive ones and suggest us both to introduce ourselves. Which is kind of cool but makes delaying the thing easier: “My reunion list is still not ready, not all people are there”.
Another idea arrived to my head just recently: I saw a person in a chat and just approached them with the truth.
Ivan: Hey, do you remember where do we know each other from?
Hey, I remember you from … and I don’t know much about you. Let’s get reintroduced so that it will be easier to be useful to each other just in case.
I had a few chats like that now and I would like to improve on my success. What I’m going to do is inquiring people about their interests, goals and plans in case I don’t know these.
Although, that does not always work smoothly, some people will just appear as clearly out of my tribe :)
“Longterm goals are too intimate of a thing to share them” (c) someone from my friend list
“Why you’re so clandestine?” (asked by a person which ignored all of my questions altogether :) )
What to do then? No reasons to worry – I just tell it does not looks like a good fit right now and we can always get reintroduced later :)
Networking at the workplace
When was the last time you’ve asked your manager what his / her goals are? When you did that for your peers? (360 reviews / performance reviews or whatever your HR come up with does not count :P )
Doing this has a few clear advantages:
- I need less resources to break the ice as we have a lot in common
- I am interested in nurturing the relationship as this makes me enjoy my time at work
- Other person is interested as that way I’m less of a pain in the neck
Surprisingly, I was not even considering the work as a networking area until the very recent time. What about you?
Pick someone at random on your social network and figure out the answers for a few questions, here’s an example list, feel free to work out your own:
- How do they spent most of their time?
- How do they relax?
- What are the things they are investing their time / resources to grow in?
Next time you’ll see someone you don’t know a lot about, approach them and talk about that, trust me, that gets even more fun and useful with practice!
How to accomplish more of what you want? – Do less shit you don’t want to. That’s about it.
When I was just born I didn’t have any things preventing me from exchanging with the world around me. Even more, at first I had that awesome navel string which I had to give up to get more freedom in my movements.
Being a small kid made me used to the fact that I should be likable by the elder people: e.g. if my dad was upset, I was losing my access to the internet, similarly other resources. I believe the same happens to most people at the beginning.
As we contact more people, it makes sense to introduce some barriers or filters. I remember a few times in the university I was completing up to 20 homework assignments per week before I’ve learned that some of the people will have to hear ‘no’, after all I needed some time to attended some of the parties.
Maintaining barriers is a bit painful to the both sides. Requesting side tends to suffer from the fear of rejection as well as the receiving side.
Quick exercise: Just try to ask people to let you cut the queue in a grocery shop without explaining any reasons to them and you’ll see what it feels like.
Similarly, spend a day answering ‘no’ to at least 10 first queries and you’ll know what I mean.
Having an excuse for some reason is better accepted by people. “Sorry, dear, I HAVE to do this, because my cat is ill”, et voila – I can do more stuff than I was capable of before (nice side effect of having an ill cat).
Poor man’s solution
As saying ‘no’ is such an energy consuming thing, how come people live with that?
Easiest solution to this I’ve seen is silent sabotage: I just commit to a project and then I fall ill, even without consciously realizing the reasons. My mind might be committed, but body won’t let me do that with the energy reserves being depleted.
I’ve been to many projects where ‘committed’ contributors left because of some kind of illness: high pressure, damaged bodies, migraines – I don’t think that’s anywhere close to a free lunch like before.
After mastering the trick I’ve seen many good minds using it independently. When I don’t feel like doing something people request from me (and they say they need that absolutely and totally committed on their side), I turn the tables: you do something first.
1) “Can you please review my code?” – “Sure, but first please run it through the checkstyle and correct all the things”
2) “Let’s have a coffee?” – “What’s on the agenda?”
3) “Let’s discuss that book” – “Please write me early next week”
95% of askers will not return. Which is kind of awesome if controlled (and I really plan for this). Otherwise I’m suffering from the fear of rejection again.
How do they do that
Volunteers et al
It often happens at volunteering gigs: I have a feeling that when I raise my hand, people think that I fully belong to them now.
First story I clearly remember is my willingness to help to a promising politician balloting for a major. There was a manager on her side inviting me to have a meeting with him with no clear agenda at 8:00 on another bank of the city (think “Ivan get up at 6 am, spend 2 hours traveling just to uhm… invest more of your time”).
Probably that’s one of the ways I recognize friends: we have easier time accepting ‘no’ from one another.
“Dude, I know you’ve spent tremendous amount of energy preparing this party, but I won’t show up. – Ok, man, you are absolutely free to do so – Love ya”
I only know a few people I hear ‘no’ from and… I respect them. I don’t use the word ‘respect’ often, but that’s probably one of the good places to use it.
When somebody is telling me (or other people ‘no’), I read that as the person’s ability to manage own energy level and being highly reliable in terms of delivering on commitments.
Saying ‘no’ to some things helps me to say louder ‘yes’ to the deeds you focus on.
Frequently asked questions
I’ve already saying ‘no’ quite often. How do I learn to do that more frequently?
First part of my story was to do some tuning in the mindset.
- People ask for help because they believe in you – thank them for that but remember that should not lead to a guaranteed ‘yes’.
- One of the things I’ve learned only recently was that its ok to miss stuff. When I say ‘no’ to an opportunity, I automatically have more energy to give a louder ‘yes’ to another one I love more.
Second part of the equation is just to practice. Pick any usual situation, tell ‘no’ occasionally and observe how your mind works.
– Dear developer, you’ve saved last 5 releases, now it’s Friday and we need your favor again.
I’m hearing ‘no’ from various people a lot
It’s ok. We live in interdependent world so we will be asking something from one another some help. Probably you’re on the edge of your comfort zone and need some boost, right?
Don’t mind and keep changing the world for the better!
I’m hearing ‘no’ to often from the same person
Try to not become someone demanding (otherwise you’ll face a wall earlier or later).
If you’re planning to evolve the relationship, learn what the other side is concerned about and give your hand with that, after a while you might be repaid (but don’t aim for that).
I really really would like to hear ‘yes’ this time and you told me not to be demanding
The trick is is to know what the other side cares about and try to convert your request into a trade.
– Hey mom, I would like an XBox
– No, dude, you’re 37
– Mom, I will be doing the dishes next 10 years, so you will have more time for the overtiems
Another effect being people always asking and people always saying ‘yes’ – I’ve lost any desire to talk with some people just because of this pattern :(
Ok, I will do more of no’s, how do I do these better?
Frame these as “I don’t”, “I won’t”.
I “can’t” sucks – that was somewhat proven scientifically.
Do you have any scripts?
- I just say ‘no’ and include no excuses
– Will you please pick me up?
- Sometimes people will try to push you
– Will you please give me 10% discount?
– But you told me I’m your favorite client
– You’re still my favorite client, I respect your persistence with mine. No
- Pushy people will hear motivation
– No, we don’t give discounts as we won’t be able to provide good service at that cost
Note: If you put an excuse which has nothing to do with the motivation, you’re toast
– Please do your homework,
– No, my laptop died
– Ok, here’s a printout, just fill that in
– Ok :(
- Super pushy will have the contact broken
– I absolutely need this
– I see. I’m going home now. Talk to you later
– No : P
Focus on what truly matters and see you in that bright world : )
I’ve already shared some of the video’s which I use to overcome the rainy days. Another bit which is keeping my eyes shining is the set of Ukrainian radio channels I tune into even when I’m far away from the homeland.
Stream links are iTunes friendly (you can do File > Open Stream and paste the link there), something like that works in other players (if anybody still uses Winamp).
- Puree (pop/electronic) [stream]
- DjFM (electronic/pop) [stream]
- KissFM (electronic) [stream]
- Prosto Radio Kiev (pop) [stream]
- Radio A (pop/indie) [stream]
- Kiev Rebel Radio [stream]
- Radio ROKS (rock) [stream]
Mixtapes by my friends: calm stuff
Yeah, I’ve heard about Spotify but I’m kind of a dinosaur in this respect : ) Radios work for me just fine yet : )
Tune in, enjoy and share your picks!
Networking has been praised as one of top 3 skills needed in this century. There is no surprise everybody tries do something and call than networking.
I’ve read like a dozen of articles (including two articles previous month, sorry, Russian language down the links: 1, 2), at least one book (Never eat alone) and did try to network on a dozen occasions.
I’ve spread like 300+ business cards and I think number of people reaching out to me because of these was under 10.
Observing something not working for a while is a great exercise. It urges me to attempt a few fixes here and there. This short opus will be saying about fixing Facebook introductions but in the same way you can improve your intros on LinkedIn, Gmail even real life elevator pitches grow from this.
Facebook: inbound introduction statistics
So you’ve pushed that damn ‘Add Friend’ / ‘Connect’ or whatever button.
Next you immediately get attracted to something else. Social networks excel at distracting people, no surprise.
Some time will pass (imagine a few weeks just to be sure). Then I’ll see you request and ask you in return: “Hey, do we know each other?”.
Below are the statistics for the answers I was getting during the latest few months.
- no answer (18) ||||||||||||||||||
- recruiting (2) ||
- bullshit talk (2) ||
- accidentally (1) |
- travel (1) |
The only interesting case being a traveler girl which quickly lost interest when discovered that I was no longer in Thailand : )
Out of the blue some weirdo is asking you where do you met him from. It’s not something which can be done quickly, so you postpone the answer. Indefinitely.
Receiver side fix
I’ve also experimented and suggested people to tell a bit about themselves. Before asking that I was telling quite a bit about myself first.
There were no cases which I’d call a success. Contrary, somehow me going to the expense of introduction made people try to sell or ask something instead of introducing themselves : )
- sale or ask (4) ||||
- later (2) ||
- manipulation (1) |
Some people were telling me that they will answer ‘later’ which is basically a sheepish way of saying “no, never”.
Communication contracts I’m used to are only good when all the sides are willing to contribute.
Thus I conclude that receiver side fixes are inappropriate here.
Sender side fix
Whenever you reach out to some one, please do your part and put a few words about you reasons and who you are on to a welcome message.
- State your interest
- Follow the norm of reciprocity and tell how you can be useful to the recipient
- Tell how you’d like to be remembered? (some people claim they don’t have problems remembering other people, I’m troublesome in this respect)
- Make this short and inspiring (which is also a form of giving so reciprocity is on your side)
- . . .
Bonus: once you’ll have enough times quickly outlining your use / interests to people on Facebook, it will be much easier to do this in real life.
Lies, damned lies and statistics
Good introductions were quietly excluded from the collected statistics. One reason for this might be that I’ve started gathering statistics during super long streak of worthless contacts – who knows.
Anyway, I remember at least 2 awesome new contacts I’ve got this way. Plus this inspired me to try networking in yet another way. I’ll share this inspiring, eloquent and sometimes still kitty exercise later, once I’ll reflect enough on it myself : )