October 17, 2016

Learn How To Say “No” At Work

It’s so easy to say yes, so why is it so hard to say no? It’s such a short and simple word yet, people don’t like to say no – especially in the workplace.

Raised palm with the word "no" written on it

Deep down, we’re all people pleasers. Our jobs are important to us and we want to do what we can to help out at all times. When we are asked to do things at work, our natural inclination is to say yes. We think that it will show our bosses that we are hard workers who are keen to take on bigger challenges, but this isn’t always the case.

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We all need to learn to say “no.” Saying yes to too many things is a quick way to drive yourself nuts. When you have too many things on your plate and your juggling a mishmash of tasks, it’s hard to stay focused. This can lead to stress and ultimately burnout. No one wants that.

The fact of the matter is that you can’t agree to do the impossible. You need to know your job and your limits. It’s your responsibility to set boundaries and to stick with them. People understand and appreciate this. So get it through your head that it’s ok to say no.

It’s not easy to say no, but here are a few simple steps to help you learn to say no at work:

Give The Request Some Serious Thought
When asked to do something at work, there is no need to respond right away. Take a moment or a day and truly think about what is being asked of you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I qualified to do this job?
  • Does this match my job description?
  • How much time will this take?
  • Is this someone else’s job?
  • Do I have the skills to do this task?
  • How does this benefit me?
  • How will this extra responsibility affect my “real” tasks?
  • Is this a priority for me?
  • Can I handle this extra responsibility?
  • Is this an on-going task or is their an end game?

Think about all of your answers and weigh the pros and cons. Is it better to say yes? Or is it better to say no? Make your decision and give them your response.

Tell Them Your Decision
Taking on extra responsibility means more work. If you choose to say no to this request then do so, but do so properly. When you give your response, explain why you are saying no. Give specific reasons. You don’t want to come off like a jerk, so let them down easy. Offer your help in other capacities if possible. Show a bit of empathy, but stick to your response. You may have to be firm, but it’s worth it. After analyzing the situation and making your decision, you need to stick to your decision no matter what.

Every professional needs to learn how to say no. It’s an essential skill that will stop people from taking advantage of you. Be selective on when you say no, but feel free to use it when the situation presents itself. In fact, it might even be the best thing you can do for your career because you’ll be more focused on the things that you see as a priority and that’s important.

When you say no, you’ll ultimately have more time to focus on your priorities and that can help you get ahead in your professional life and your personal life. Saying no can most definitely be a good thing.Don’t be afraid of saying no.

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About this Author 

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains. He travels the globe in search of snow and adventure. Life has allowed him to live and work all over the world doing cool jobs and loving every minute of it.

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