Tricia Karp Tricia Karp
11 October 2012

Pleasing Prowess & Pushback Charm: An interview with Diane’ Ranck

Diane’ Ranck is a woman who means business.  (Her name is pronounced Dee-arna).

Her most phenomenal achievement?  Being an Australian Education International Counsellor at the Aussie Embassy in Thailand, where she turned around the trend of international students going to England and the USA.  She created a fantastic brand for Aussie education, and took a whopping market share away from the UK and Canada.  That was in the late 90s, when Australia became the second choice for studying to the USA.

Writing the first ever geography textbook for students in Papua New Guinea also features on Diane’s list of amazing feats.  Back in the 80s, she scoured fields and rivers where no white woman had ever gone before.

Diane’s pretty proud too of bringing cultural shift and change where people feel ownership to Flinders University, where she’s currently the Director of Marketing and Communications.

Oh, and did I mention Diane’ speaks fluent German and Thai?  Well, she does.

This is the part I was extra intrigued to talk to her about though: until she was 40, Diane’ didn’t know how to say “no.”

I was the girl who wanted to make sure that everyone was included and felt good.  I wanted to please everyone and say yes to everything, all the time.  The word “no” didn’t figure in that sort of thinking.

Sound familiar?  I wanted to know about the costs to Diane’.  Because there are costs.  Always.

I was constantly overworked and doing too many things, and sometimes doing things that weren’t in my portfolio and role.  I ended up doing lots of things outside of hours, and I was constantly in a frazzle.

I was the do-er, I’d go the extra mile, I was organised.  And in the end, I felt used.  My energy was being sucked out by everyone else.  That made me realise I had to learn how to say “no.”

Who said turning 40 wasn’t a big deal?

I remember my exact turning point.  It was on my 40th birthday.  I decided I’m old enough to be my own keeper and not have to impress everyone, and young enough to say “no” and be charming about it.

The best part of uttering that tiny two-letter word?

I felt a sense of empowerment and gained a lot more respect.

I also had to look at really knowing and figuring out why I wanted to say “no.”  I had to work out how I could feel good about it, because it was hard to feel good about it. (she’s so right)

What shifted was having more self-respect and enough capacity and articulation to work out why “no” was ok, and still make the other person go away thinking that’s ok with me too.  I offered alternatives and solutions. (smart woman)

I ended up with more ‘me’ time.  (ah-ha!)

I asked Diane’ what’s her advice for other women who are ready to quit their non-no habit?

Find your own space and don’t react immediately when someone requests something of you.  Tell them: It’s a great idea, let me think about it.

If you’re not sure, find a mentor or coach or someone you can run it past.  Ask: How can I handle this?  If you don’t feel good about it and don’t know why, run it past someone you trust.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  I might just call on Diane’ to write a textbook for me too.

I’d love to know: How are you with “no”?  Do you want to say it more but hold back?  Would you love to know how to execute a beautiful “no”?  Tell us in the comments.

I have a lot to say about “no” in my Power Talk Pow Wow mini eCourse.  Sign up now to get it in your Inbox.



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