How to say No

Small word, big challenge!

We’ve all experienced it. Snowed under at work when someone we care about asks if we can ‘just’ help them with something.

Everything is telling us that we should say no, but we just can’t seem to manage it. Yes, we are too busy  to take on anything else, but what would they think of us if we didn’t help them? After all, they said it’d just take ‘a minute’.

So we say yes. Again. And our own work suffers as a result.

If we want to prevent this from happening, we need to prepare as we should for any difficult conversation – by saying what we want to say, in a way that we feel comfortable with.

Practice saying the following until it feels natural:

  • Sorry – I’ve got to get this done for a tight deadline today.  I can have a quick look at it after 4pm if you like?

  • I’d love to help but I’m unfortunately going to have to say no at the moment because…

  • I’m not sure I’m the best person for this. Why don’t you try asking (John)?

If you can master the art of saying No in a way you’re comfortable with, you’ll save yourself an awful lot of time.

The next time you’re asked the dreaded question, you are unlikely to rise to the occasion under pressure.  It’s much more likely that you’ll fall to the level of your preparations – so practice, practice, practice!


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