Don’t say ‘Maybe’ if you get asked to help, attend a meeting, or do something. Be clear and either say yes and commit or say no if you don’t want to or cannot. And only use “not yet” when you know when you give a final yes or no.
“Maybe” creates ambiguity for everybody, creating expectations bound to be mismatched. Saying no might not be easy. You might disappoint people. However, people should be angry for the right reasons than to be happy for the wrong reasons.
Whenever you are unclear, you create expectations that might not match your intentions. And unmatched expectations end up with more people spending time on activities that do not deliver any value, such as follow-up whether you are or not attending the meeting, delivering the project or something else.
You do not want to be the person wasting time by introducing ambiguity. There are a few simple things you can do to create clarity.
- Use rules. What are your rules when you can say ‘yes’ to something? Make it clear and communicate.
- Avoid getting into such a situation at all. Block your calendar so you do not get meeting invites when you are unavailable or want to work on something else.
- Create constraints. Constraints, similar to rules, can help you make easier decisions since you define upfront what you can and cannot do.
Saying No (or yes) creates clarity. People might not like your answer, but they can appreciate the transparency they gained.