"Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish."
For many people, saying "no" is very challenging. Why?
There are a myriad of reasons. Especially in your professional life because you never know which might be the big missed opportunity. Or the career-altering decision - good or bad. Here are just a few of the common reasons workers hesitate to say "no":
- Some people avoid any conflict like the plague.
- In some situations workers do not want to have to defend their reasons (which is quite logical since our decisions are often emotional, and not rational)
- Or they don’t want to fight for the right to say "no"
- Sometimes they have the impression that saying no will cause their coworker to disrespect them
- Or that saying "no" to someone of authority shows that person a lack of respect, even if the authority is overstepping their boundary by asking
- Others fear being a disappointment and they don’t want to hurt their fellow employees feelings
Breaking the "No" Barrier
To break away of the fear of no, let’s look at some hints to help with saying that simple little two letter word:
- Know why you should say "no". Know your goals and the direction you want to go in. Without direction, you’ll get thrown all over the place, and eventually off course.
- Be appreciative that the person thought of you and asked you. Thank them and then kindly back out. Say both to yourself and the other party that you are saying no to the request and not to the person.
- Don’t let the person think you are rejecting them as a person, a coworker or a friend
- Explain why, even as simple as “I’m swamped right now” is a great reason and helps the one asking to relate to you and respect your negative answer
- Change your thinking that your are missing out. Yes, it’s a missed opportunity, but you cannot take all opportunities, so you have to make trade-offs. When you are saying no, you are saying yes to something else.
Things to Never Be Ashamed of Saying "No" To
If you are a hard worker, and achieving your professional goals and targets, then it is OK to say "no". You have earned the right to avoid tasks that will pull you away or distract you. You should not be ashamed or afraid to say a gentle and polite no. Here’s an ample list of things to say no to. Consider these, as you plan your work day
- Say "no" to things that are non-productive. Just because "it has always been done this way" is not a good reason. If you have a more efficient or insightful approach, respectfully explain that while that may have worked in the past, this will be more effective.
- Say "no" to things that will pull you off track from your goals and responsibilities. Unless you have time to run a rabbit trail, and it looks like it could be fun, say no.
- Say "no" to unnecessary meetings. Ask for an itinerary before the meeting or explain that meetings often are unproductive, is there a way we can make this more efficient, like via email?
- Say "no" to being expected to respond instantly to messages 24/7. You need downtime. You need to focus elsewhere, on your family, on life at home, on relaxing, on recreation. And even to reflect on your work. You should not be expected to be glued to your smartphone or computer day and night.
- Say "no" to requests that conflict your personal values. If you are being asked to do something that goes against your values, whether they are religious or moral or social, don’t be ashamed to say no.
- Say "no" to tight deadlines on non-priority or low priority projects. Sometimes clients or bosses don’t have a good grasp of what is important. Sometimes you need to respectfully remind them, or just say no.
- Say "no" to extra work, when you are either working to capacity or already have taken on extra work. Don’t let people drop more work on you. Politely explain that you are at your capacity and they can either wait until all your other work is done, or they can pass it on to someone who is less busy.
- Say "no" to work that can be delegated to someone else with more experience and expertise. If there is something being given to you, that can be done by someone else who can do it better. Say no and suggest that other person.
- Say "no" to clients that are trouble. You know those ones who make you cringe when you see them on caller ID. If you don’t want to deal with saying no to them directly, and you have flexibility in pricing (like you sell a service), then price the job to make it worth it to you, or to make them say no themselves. The Pareto Principle (more commonly known as the 80/20 rule) applies.
- Say "no" to people who ask for a lot of extras, free things, or steep discounts. These people will drag everything they can out of you and will likely leave you exhausted. Don’t buy the “I’ll give you good references” line, it’s not worth it. (Did we mention the Pareto Principle yet?)
- Say "no" to late payments. If a job is costly, and the client needs a little time, then ask them to pay at least 50% to 75% now, then the remainder in a week. But don’t let them walk off not paying at all.
- Say "no" to inefficiency in your workplace. Update your automation technology to maximize efficiency and allow everyone to keep their focus.
Just two little letters can make the difference between an incredibly efficient day, and a day of scurrying from one thing to another, with distraction and exhaustion.
When you say no to inefficiency, you have to say yes to things that will improve your work life. Whether you run your own business or manage a coworking community, there are things you can do to improve efficiency.
- Get everyone in your workgroup or business on Skype or Slack. This could help cut down meetings, as you can create groups and pass information to only the people who need it, rather than using up meeting time discussing something that affects only a few people.
- Update your reception area with a digital visitor logbook. This helps to keep track of who is coming and going from your work space, as well as reducing the need for people to stop their work to find out who is there.
- Choose from many helpful apps and software to maximize your business's efficiency.
While you say yes to many great things, you will also say no, do it with confidence!