Beyond the Build

Leadership

Not Yet.

When I was younger, things seemed more black and white. Like many at that age, my answer was either “yes,” or “no,” and not much in between. Over the years, I have learned that there is also the right place to say “maybe, but not yet.”

To me, learning to be direct and definitive is important, but mastering the art of leaving doors open is a close second. It’s subtle. It may be turning someone down, but welcoming future interaction. A couple of other thoughts come to mind.

  • When I’m making a first soft call on a prospect, if I feel a “no” coming on,  I’ll craft the “not yet” approach into  something like, “Maybe the timing is just not right, and let’s visit a bit later.”
  • When coaching new eager folks at SP, “not yet” typically does not deter their can-do spirit, and lets them know I care about them and wish to have the timing just right.

Keeping the lines of communication open is for the better (well a lot of the time, anyway). While a hard stop is an answer for sure, making room to start a dialogue can be fruitful equation, as things will inevitably change. There are times we should let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no,” but experience has taught me to be attentive to the various shade of grays. As I travel along, I have learned there are many to consider.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of the Stewart Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.