This photo is of the Mexico/US border in Douglas, Arizona. A record number of children are now crossing the Mexican border without their parents. You can read more about this here. Why? They are desperate to solve a problem they have and even risking their lives in the middle of the desert is better to them than remaining in their situation.
I mention this as to remind us that when people come to you with a problem you are either part of the solution or not.
nay•say•er: a person who says something will not work or is not possible : a person who denies, refuses, or opposes somethingFor many years while I was a staff photographer I was classified by people as a “naysayer” due to how often people came to me to ask me to do something and I explained why it wasn't possible.
I remember the moment when it finally hit me how negative I was being when my co-worker jokingly said that I always was saying no. While I was hurt by the comment I realized he was right.
Are you a Naysayer?
My experience has been there are more naysayers on staffs than freelance. You cannot grow your business by saying no. You must learn how to say yes. Those freelancers who say no too often are soon looking for another career. However being on a staff their is a little more protection to being negative. However this has a time limit as well.
A good clue that you might be a naysayer is other people are starting to do what you perceived as your job.
“Why are they bringing in an outsider to do what I am suppose to be doing?” is a question that you might be asking if you are a naysayer. While working as a staff photographer for a college I couldn't understand why the admissions office was hiring freelance photographers to shoot their recruiting catalogues.
This is not always due to being a naysayer. Many colleges around the country have staff photographers who do most all the work for a school. However, when it comes to the advertising of the school, they are looking for a particular style. As long as you are offering to help them and the photographer coming in to shoot then you should be fine.
If you feel threatened by this outside photographer take a deep breath. Ask yourself has anyone come to me and I answered them with reasons their request isn't possible. If you did then you should feel threatened.
Too often people take the attitude that is their job and the rules say I have this responsibility. You do have this until you start becoming an obstacle to people in the company trying to get their projects done.
Be an Optimist
The opposite of the naysayer is the optimist. When people come to you with a request learn how to turn their request into a reality. While someone's request has some really huge problems look first for something positive. Big clue if nothing seems good about their request at the bare minimum you can start with being excited that they came to you with their idea.
“I am honored that you thought of me to help you with your project,” is a great way to start on a positive note.
When talking about an obstacle that needs to be addressed be sure to talk about a solution. Let's say you don't have a particular piece of equipment to make that happen. Tell them if we can rent or buy a piece that you don't have that it would make it possible. Maybe you just need an extra hand to make it happen. You know for me to move the couch from this room to another I just need some help carrying it, would you or can you find someone to help? I am more than willing, but am busy at the moment and could use some help to find another person.
The trick is to let them know from your experience that we need to address something for their to be success. I am more than willing to help you, but my boss has me working on these projects. While I can ask him/her to let me help you it would be better for you to make the request for my time.
If you look at the elements of storyline it will help remind you why you need to be the optimist and not the naysayer.
The person coming to you has a Conflict/Task and they are looking to you to help them as a Guide/Resource. If you say no, their issue didn't go away. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz she will move on down the yellow brick road to find the solution to her problem.
The difference between the Optimist and the Naysayer is the Assignment they give to the person. Give them the solutions [Actions] that will help their story turn into a Comedy and not a Tragedy. You saying no is just not an option to someone who needs to solve a problem.
When someone proposes a new program that will compete with your program tell them how you want to help and really need to understand their goals. Also ask for their critique on how the present program you are doing isn't meeting those needs. DON'T be quick to defend your program.
If you listen you may learn that your program isn't serving all the needs or maybe you need to just tweak the communication about your program to show how it is addressing those needs. Either way there is a perception that is not meeting the needs of the audience.
Your role may change going forward, but by learning how to listen and adjust you make yourself more valuable to them and the organization.
As long as you are helping the organization address the new issues facing it then you are part of the solution and will have a job in the future. If you try and protect and keep things the way they are you are not growing and slowly helping the organization die.