My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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I do say it quite a bit - but this is still something I've got to learn to do more often. Even though I try to say "no" when I know I can't do something, I have still been feeling over-committed lately. So it's time to start saying it more often.

But the fact that I feel over-committed is just a symptom that I'm saying "yes" too often - the real problem is that I'm lying to whomever I'm making promises that I can't keep. In this week's chapter from My Job Went To India, Chad Fowler sums it up:
Saying "yes" is an addictive and destructive habit. It's a bad habit masquerading as a good one. But there's a big difference between a can-do attitude and the misrepresentation of one's capabilities (extra emphasis mine). The latter causes problems not only for you but for the people to whom you are making your promises. If I am your manager and I ask you if you can rewrite the way we track shipments ... by the end of the month, someone probably asked me if it could be done by then... So, armed with your assurance that you can make the date, I run off and commit to my customers that it will be done.
When you lie about your capabilities (even though it's not malicious), that spreads itself throughout an organization, and harms everyone. Most importantly for you, it damages your reputation. Whereas the man who says "yes" only when he is truly capable may feel bad about having to say "no" more often than you, he will come to be known for his honesty and accuracy in prediction while no one will trust anything you have to say about such matters.

The point is that you need to have the courage to speak up on the job. You need to say yes when you can do something. You need to say no when you can't do something. And as Chad notes at the end, you need to speak out against bad decisions:
As a manager, I make decisions or strong suggestions all the time. However, I don't hire my employees to be robots. It's the ones who speak up and offer a better suggestion that become my trusted lieutenants.
How guilty are you of over-committal and non-committal? I may have learned to not keep quiet, but I still have some work to do regarding the scheduling of -- and commitment to -- tasks in general.

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