There is nothing more frustrating than trying to convince someone of the importance of your priorities, especially when they stand in the way of your completing them. The question is how do we make our priorities seem important to others who we often need to conclude our many tasks?

It’s enough of a challenge to get ourselves into a highly productive
mode, which is why many create rituals that help them get into their
work mode for the week, but it can be a major challenge when everyone else seems dead-set against our schedules. Sometimes a happy attitude can make all the difference with some but usually most people couldn’t care less about us and our problems. The answer, unfortunately, is being that person you least enjoy, that person who doesn’t take no for an answer. You have to be steadfast.

Believe it or not there are hidden choices for every tough situation you have ever been in. When the printer says you can only have three choices of paper, chances are there are really four choices. When the photographer says the shots will be ready by Friday and you need them by Wednesday, there’s a good chance that you can have them by Tuesday. Most of the time people will hold back secret options from you that can be unleashed if you simply ask. Airlines are a huge example of this mentality. By simply asking you can discover how to get lower fares that can save you hundreds on last minutes flights as well as prime seats on specific planes and how to avoid being bumped from a flight. All of these options will always remain hidden if you assume that nothing can be done.

In the business of design some of the people I most respect have always been very forward people. These individuals always seem to know what questions to ask and when; they have a nose for the unspoken deals and can extend deadlines you didn’t know were negotiable. Most of all these people know when to be firm and when to let go.

Consider the last time you spoke to customer support over an issue; when they told you there was nothing they could do, did you give up? If the answer is yes, don’t worry most of us have said the same thing. Of course we know that giving in wasn’t the right thing to do. Much of the business world functions under the bully mentality and to survive you have to stick up for yourself. Other people can’t be bothered caring about your priorities or your deadlines if it seems to conflict with theirs, so unfortunately you have to care for yours and yours alone. No one will respect your priorities if you seem not to. There is a time to be flexible, but that same flexibility misdirected can lead others to treat you and your main concerns as a doormat.

We are taught early on that making a fuss is to be avoided at all costs, but is this the right mentality. To a certain extent there is truth behind the saying “Nice guys finish last”. In order to preserve our priorities we must become skilled at defining the moments that are appropriate for being less than accommodating.

This is a skill that needs to be practiced and tends not to be an innate ability. There is a way to get what you want, how you want it and still garner some respect rather then just being that selfish person to be avoided. Certainly I am not suggesting you plow people over for your own interests but there are times when your priorities need to be enforced.

Be firm and know when not to take no for an answer

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