How to Say No by Saying Yes

I recently had a communication request come through for a church I am working with. The request was for a children’s event that applied to a very small demographic of the church, yet the person submitting the request wanted a very large platform for this event. If you work in a church, you know everyone wants a verbal announcement… if you don’t work in a church, just know that verbal announcements from the stage on a Sunday are a big deal.

If an organization has had a communication strategy in place for a while very rarely does the above example happen. The organization I’m working with has not had a strategy to discern importance and the above scenario occurs frequently.

Because I’m new in my role with the church, I’m not in a position to simply say no. My current relationship with staff isn’t ready to withstand that sort of response. Effective communication management requires that you have relational equity to say no.

Rather than saying no, I acknowledged (if only to myself) that this communication item would indeed get a verbal announcement. My responsibility now as communication director is to find how this event provides value to the entire church.

Basically, I need to discover the big idea in the small event.

When Without an Answer, Ask Questions

Questions are powerful. If you have yet to realize how much influence you can gain and leverage through questions, go ahead and start asking questions. You’ll soon discover their power.

Here are the two questions that I have asked to help reveal how best to communicate this children’s event to the church.

  1. What does success look like for this event?
  2. Why would those who this doesn’t apply to care to know this information?

After asking, the question of the leaders, I listened for approximately 20 minutes. Each question brought a much greater value proposition to frame the announcement than the original one event on it’s own.

Making Something Out of Nothing

You are bombarded with many requests asking for help to communicate “good things” which we know will often not be the “right things.” The key to avoiding “no” is to allow the heart of the person making the request to come through… the best way to get to the heart is by asking questions.

When you tap into the heart you get a release of passion much like the moment you strike oil. Much like black gold, passion  comes racing to the surface and explodes. The Bible even says out of the overflow the mouth speaks.

This passion is what will help you tell a compelling story, no matter what the event is or what scale it’s on.

If you can ask questions that allow others to share their passion, you’ll find value in the words that come from the center of their heart.

So What Now?

If you are currently navigating through these types of scenarios, this will hopefully be a tactic you can implement right away. If you have a communication strategy in place and it guides these decisions, this may be a good reminder.

Bottom line, relationships are worth more than guidelines. Preserve the relationship at nearly any cost and look for ways to wrap your ‘no’ in a bigger ‘yes’.