My mama always said “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you gone get.” I probably can’t say this line with Forrest Gump southern accent but nevertheless, after almost half a century of trials and errors, I fully grasp its meaning.

I also came to learn that people are like chocolates too! Regardless of their shiny wrappers, exotic toppings or luxurious brand, you never know what they are made of. I believe we can all agree that we have met at least one person that seemed flaky to us at first glance. You know the type. Others are not that obvious, seemingly rather likable. It’s bad enough to deal with people like this, but you certainly don’t want to be one of them.

Pay attention to this one small trivial act for it is the biggest telltale: Not responding to email.

Everyone is busy. Everyone gets lots of emails. We may at times fall short and not respond promptly (mea culpa!). A great discipline to adopt is to send at least a simple acknowledgement if you need to establish a reasonable time to respond and manage expectations. On the other end, not responding at all is as unprofessional as it gets! Not only that, but these are the 2 big take-away you are leaving the sender with:


You are unable to make a decision

You engaged with friends, colleagues or other professionals on a project but then came to the realization that this is not really something you want to pursue. Be honest. Instead of avoiding it altogether, simply announce your conclusion. People will respect your ability to make a decision for yourself or your company.

‘Only fools and dead men don’t change their minds. Fools won’t and dead men can’t.’

                                      John H. Patterson —


You fear conflict

Saying no is not something that comes naturally for most people. It is a learned behavior. If you grew up like I did, saying ‘no’ to your parents or teachers was more than likely frowned upon, to say the least. By the time we reach adulthood, most of us suffer from anxiety just at the thought of saying ‘no’.

The fallout from a ‘no’ is rarely as bad as you think it will be and certainly better than the one from ignoring people. By politely declining whatever the subject matter was, the sky won’t fall and poor remarks will be avoided.

‘The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.’

                                      Tony Blair —


People will give you a couple of chances to match what you say you will do with what you actually do. Stay in their “yes” box by learning how to say “no” when you need to.


And that’s all I have to say about that!


Author: Carine Dieudé, Strategy Director, Altima Business Solutions “Empowering you to focus”

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