As a project manager, I was inclined (and encouraged) to never ever use the word “no.”
Not only was this something I truly believed in, but I also knew it would differentiate me from some of the other PMs. I heard them say “No, we can’t do that” or “No, I don’t know “ or just plain “No.” Surely, they couldn’t actually mean they were going to leave it at that…a flat out “no” and then carry on as if nothing had happened? I wasn’t going to be that project manager. I was going to be the one that found a way to make it happen, what ever ‘it’ was at any given time. If a “no” came out of my mouth, it was going to be with a caveat, an explanation or some kind of option.
You see, I believe that there is always a way to loosen the mortar when you think you’ve hit a brick wall…find the loose rock and wiggle it, plant a fast growing plant and watch it move the earth to shift the wall…or heck, even climb over it! But don’t just cave.
Good Project Managers are solutions seekers. They navigate obstacles and seek out options. No is a dirty word and to be known as the NO PM is a fate to which I do not aspire. Give it a try. Even adding a few simple words to the n-word can open up a world of possibilities. “No, but how about this idea….”
(note to self: This mortar seeking-rock-wiggling solutions seeker does not apply this concept with children and pets. A swift, firm “no” is what you’ll need lest you find yourself sans wallet in a candy factory with 10 3rd grade kids. Hungry. A true story.)