Learn how to say no

Learn How To Say No At Work

  • Facing a hard time saying NO to people? Well, you are not alone! Saying NO to someone can be one of the hardest things to do and it is a common problem for many of us.

Learn How to Say No at Work

Have you found yourself in the following “YES” situations?

  • Saying “YES” to a job offer that was below your expectations
  • “Can you do this for me? I need to meet up 5 pm deadline today?” YES!, even though you have tons of other stuff to do.
  • An unempathetic co-worker who always seeks your assistance to do jobs he/she doesn’t want to get involved in the worst of cases, pressures you and fails to show empathy to your own workload. And you still say “YES”!

Don’t you feel frustrated after saying YES? You find yourself doing something that you didn’t want to do. It adds to your stress and when we do it, it sometimes isn’t our best work.

If we don’t learn how to say NO, we do ourselves a disfavour

It’s very common after saying YES, we justify it by thinking,
“I did someone a favour, it can’t be all that bad”, “I’ll try to make the job worthwhile in other ways” or “I’ll try to say no next time”. Well, unfortunately, the reality is:

  • You did someone a favour but did yourself a disfavour by adding more stress to your life 
  • You are likely going to face the same situation again and if you don’t learn how to say no
  • If you don’t learn how to say no, you WON’T WIN. YOU CAN’T! We have limited time and resources in our lives to say YES to everyone and everything
  • YES-MEN or YES-WOMEN don’t win! If you say YES to everything, you are not focusing on your AREAS OF PRIORITY

Why is it so hard to say NO?

We associate NO with rejection and that it sends a negative message and creates a wrong impression about us.

If I say “NO”:

– I’m not a team player

– I’m letting someone down

– I’m being rude

NO is a shield to help us say Yes to things that are more impactful

Learn how to say no at work
No is a shield to help you say Yes to the things that matter

You want to say “YES” to doing things that make the most impact. These are your bullets which you do not want to be wasting. NO is a shield that prevents you from using these bullets! When you say YES to the things that matter, you will have better work life balance.

Strategies to Learn How to Say No 

Here are some strategies to help you say the SIMPLE NO without being or seen as rude. Use these tips to learn how to say no politely at work.

Pause and listen to the ask before replying

“Give me a moment to think about it”. Don’t jump straight to saying yes. Take some time to think about what this ask is and how it is going to impact or benefit you. Weigh it against the stuff you need to get done as well. 

Sometimes, you might encounter people who use high-pressure tactics to get you to commit. Stand firm. If it is worth your time, it can wait and if you mean something to the other person, they can wait. Usually, when someone uses high-pressure tactics, they either just one to close the sale (if it is a sale situation) or they just want to pass the responsibility to you (I’ve already asked you to do it and so it’s your problem now)

Be Honest and Transparent

 Just be straight honest to someone. “I can’t do this because I have another task that I have to deliver by …..”. The last thing you want to do is come up with a white lie.

Be Firm and polite – don’t over-explain or be over apologetic

Don’t over-explain or over-apologise. Be firm and polite with your reasons. Over explaining makes it seem that you are not sure about whether you can or cannot do the task. It also gives the impression that you are trying to get your way out of it.

Offer alternatives

I find this strategy a useful one, particularly in the workplace. “I can’t do it now but if you wait till next week, I can help you” or if it is your boss that you need to say no to, “I have multiple tasks on my list. Could we re-look into them and could you advise me which task I should de-prioritise for this”. By offering alternatives, you are still helping the other person by seeking other solutions.

You won’t get the best out of me – it is not in your interest

This last one is pretty powerful as well. You are basically telling the other party that they make the decision to try to get you to do something, it will not be their best decision or they might not achieve their intended goals.  “I can’t do this right now as my divided attention might result in mistakes” or “To do this for you, I might have to focus less on some areas”. By doing this, you are getting the other party to reflect on whether it is a good idea to get you to do the task.

With these strategies, you will be on your path to a more productive day ahead.

Useful Resources

Not Nice: Stop People Pleasing, Staying Silent, & Feeling Guilty… And Start Speaking up, Saying No, Asking Boldly, and Unapologetically Being Yourself   In his book, Dr Aziz explains why we try to appease others and provides tools to get away from the guilt of not trying to make everyone happy

If you want an easy read that teaches you the art of saying no, it teaches you how to say no with grace and provides simple and effective strategies to turn people down with finesse.

If you have a Kindle Unlimited membership, these books are free to read.

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