Mastering the art of saying ‘no’ with these quick tips02 Nov 2016
In the modern workplace almost everyone’s time-poor. There is a lot to accomplish in a given day yet many ambitious employees continue to take on more tasks. While it’s admittedly difficult to turn down the opportunity to spearhead a new initiative or take the lead on a core project – sometimes you just have to say ‘no.’
For many professionals, this is a difficult skill to master. But saying no is critical to managing your time. It’s better to complete 5 tasks well than 10 tasks halfheartedly. So – what are some ways to make sure you are only accepting the necessary tasks?
Set some boundaries
At the start of the month, week or even day, make a list of your most critical tasks. Then make a vow to yourself to not accept any extra work that doesn’t advance your goals. This can help make sure you stay on target for completing the tasks you absolutely need to get done.
Professionals who lack the confidence to say no often find themselves neglecting their core functions. Make your work a priority and then use any spare time you have to help the team.
You simply need to learn how to say ‘no’ with grace.
Be direct and polite
The word ‘no’ is often associated with rudeness or rejection. However, it doesn’t have to be an ugly affair. You simply need to learn how to say ‘no’ with grace. This all starts with avoiding the excuses. Be upfront from the start if you can’t or don’t want to do something.
Then, be mindful of your wording. Apologise for not being able to help, and then explain why you can’t take on the task. Approach these communications with the same grace you would a client comm.
Think before you agree
In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, author Karen Dillon shared some ways to tastefully approach saying no around the office. In her opinion, professionals need to take the time to think in order to avoid the knee-jerk reaction of saying ‘yes’.
“There could be a lot of good reasons to take on a little extra work, even though it might feel like a panic first reaction,” explained Dillon. “But you should absolutely think through before you say yes or no, and then proceed to figuring out, how can I possibly do that?”
This all boils down to managing your time. Take a second to contemplate people you particularly admire for their time management skills – how do they do it? Chances are, they are professionals that say no fairly regularly.
The word ‘no’ is a healthy part of any professional vocabulary, don’t be too proud to admit when your plate is too full.