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Posts Tagged ‘saying no at work’

Saying No Is Better Than Saying Nothing

Many people struggle to say no. As a result, when someone has a request that we can’t or don’t want to meet, we often say nothing. We simply don’t respond. Or we put the person off telling them we’ll get back to them. Then people wonder. “Did they get my request? Should I send the request again? Will I look bad if I ask again? How many times should I ask before I just let the request go?”

Saying no is better than saying nothing. No gives people closure. Silence leaves people in limbo wondering what they should do next.

Saying no is hard. We don’t want to disappoint or let people down. And yet, you can’t say yes to everything. You can say no and still sound like a responsible, easy-to-work-with, accommodating professional.

Here are ways to say no:

  1. Thank the person for asking. “Thank you for asking me.”

Saying “thank you” acknowledges the other person and buys you time to think about their request.

  • Tell the person you need some time to think about their request. Ask, “Can I have a few days to think about it? I’ll get back to you by Friday.”

You don’t need to reply in the moment. I often regret things I agree to without thinking through the request thoroughly.

  • Consider what you really want and are willing to do. It’s much worse to over commit and under deliver than to simply say no or renegotiate requests.
  • Get back to the person in a timely way (when you said you would) and tell them what you’re willing to do.

How to Say No Option One:  Simply say no.

Example:  “I really appreciate you asking me to write the proposal for the __________ RFP. I’m not able to do that. Can I recommend someone else who has the expertise and time to do a great job?”

Don’t give a bunch of reasons for saying no. People aren’t interested in why we can or can’t do something; they just want to know if we will do it.

How to Say No Option Two:  Agree and negotiate the time frame.

Example: “I’d be happy to do that. I can’t do it before the last week of the month. Would that work for you?” If the answer is no, negotiate further. Ask, “When do you really need it? I can certainly do pieces by then, but not the whole thing. Given that I can’t meet your timeline, who else can work on this in tandem or instead of me?”

How to Say No Option Three:  Say no to the request but say what you can do.

Example: “I can’t do _______. But I can do ________. How would that work?”

A review of how to say no:

  1. Acknowledge the request by getting back to the requestor within 24 hours.
  2. Give yourself time to think about and respond to requests.
  3. Negotiate requests to your and the requestor’s satisfaction.
  4. Agree on what you can and are willing to do.
  5. Keep your commitments.

Saying no is always hard. But it’s always better to say no than to ignore requests, or to say yes and do nothing.

How to Say No at Work – Good Business Communication

How many times do you walk by something in your house or office and think, “I have to clean that up?” Or get in your car and think, “I really need to wash this thing.” Every day we put up with things that drain our energy and attention, but we often do nothing.

What you’re tolerating may be small –a disorganized drawer or desk. But it may also be bigger –an unsatisfying relationship, a job you’ve outgrown, or a policy with which you disagree.

I took a time management class years ago and the trainer helped us organize our Word files so things were easier to find. She asked the question, “What are you tolerating?” I thought it was a funny question in relation to my laptop’s hard drive. But after my files were organized and I could access things without searching for 20 minutes, I realized how much time I’d been wasting and what I was indeed tolerating.

What frustrates you, but you’re so used to it, you no longer even notice? Perhaps you’re tired of responding to emails late at night or on the weekends? Or frustrated by people who don’t keep their word? We train people to treat us as they treat us.

Here a few suggestions for how to say no at work:

Start cleaning up the small things that make you cringe each time you look at them. Perhaps start with your desk or a drawer you’re afraid to open. Then consider when you’ve said yes, when you meant no. These situations are harder than cleaning out a drawer because they involve other people.

If you’ve agreed to something you don’t want to do, you can often renegotiate. Saying no at work could sound something like this, “I said I really wanted to lead X project and realized that I don’t have the time to do the project justice. I think I need to replace myself. I’m sorry to suggest a change so late in the game. I shouldn’t have offered to take it on in the first place. It was too ambitious. Who do you think would be a good fit?” Retracting yourself is better than doing a poor job.

Or, “I realized I said I’d plan our next family reunion. I’d love to do it and don’t feel I have the time to do the event justice. Who do you think would take it on?”

If you’ve committed to something you really don’t want to do, it will likely show. You’ll resent it and might not do the best job. Both of which are bad for your relationships and reputation. So start speaking up and saying no at work. And if that feels too big, go wash your car. You’ve got to start somewhere.

Seven years ago today I left my corporate job and started what’s now Candid Culture. Thank you for your support and for working towards having a more candid workplace. Please enjoy 20% off all of our resources through Friday May 16th. Use code: 7YEARSOFCANDOR.

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