Career Advice

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You should be a team player and not difficult to work with to grow in your career but at the same time you need to learn how to professionally say “No” without hurting your credibility.

 

Saying No is not an easy task. We are in general as good people do not want to disappoint our colleagues and managers. But we forget that it is not in our human capacity to take work load limitlessly. The more we stretch and stress ourselves out the lesser the work quality gets. And then that time comes when even after saying yes to everyone for everything we are not able to deliver it on time because we have overcommitted ourselves. We don’t have to turn into evil or bad people to start saying No. We just need to find out when and how to do it. People say, “there is no good way to give bad news” but certainly there are steps you can take to make it as easy, and not rude, as possible.

Assess the request
Before you give a blunt “No”, assess the situation. See what is already on your plate, what are the time constraints, what are your priorities. Can you shuffle things around to accommodate this new request. Is it something minor that won’t take much time or is it something for which you have to put other things on backburner. You need to ask yourself  four questions. 1) Is it a favor or part of your job? 2) who is making the request? 3) How long will it take to do it if you say yes? 4) How urgent is it? Most of the time the person who is making the request can also help you say “No” and prioritize things for you. Based on your answers to these questions, you can assess to say Yes or No.

Be straightforward
If you realize you have neither the desire nor the bandwidth to help, and, therefore, need to turn down the request, be honest and up front about your reasons, advises Weeks. “Too often people start with lightweight reasons and hold back the real reason they’re saying no because they think it’s too heavy,” she says. “But the little, self-deprecating explanations are not persuasive and are easily batted aside. Or they come across as disingenuous.” To limit frustration, be candid about why you’re saying no. If you’re challenged, stay steady, clear, and on message. Dillon recommends describing your workload and the “projects on your plate” by saying something like, “I would be unable to do a good a job on your project and my other work would suffer.”

Be empathetic
Don’t be like you don’t care about others. Be compassionate. Instead of saying “Sorry, I am too busy to help you.” It would be better to say “I know how important it is for you, and I’d love to help but honestly I will not be able to.” Offer something little bit if you can, like “However I can help you with draft if you like and you can take it from there.” With this gesture other persons feels like you actually did want to help but you were really preoccupied. Be careful, don’t be insensitive to others call. You may, and sure will, need help of these very colleagues at some point.

Be firm but not mean
Watch your tone and your body language when you say no. don’t make the other person feel that he made a terrible mistake asking you. Maintain your manners. No sighing, no grimacing, no rolling eyes or tightening you lips. No putting hand on forehead. And no taunting tone. You need to get your point across in best way possible, not to embarrass other person. But then that doesn’t also mean that you say No so reluctantly that other person gets the impression that if he/she tries a little harder, you would do it. Be firm on your stance, just convey it politely.

People don’t want to hear no. and when they do, they don’t like you as much as before. Don’t worry too much about it. You can undo the damage. Reach out to your colleagues in your free time, see what are they up to and offer help in anyways you can. Or once you are done with your assignment and if you know the person you said No to, still working on the same project and can also use some help, then go ahead and undo the damage. That way you will prove it that you didn’t say no because you were just not willing to help. In fact that will reemphasize your statement that you made “… I would love to help but ….”. be part of the team. What goes around, comes around. Be good to others, for others to be good to you.

Do’s:
•    Assess the situation
•    Be true and straightforward
•    Be empathetic
•    Be firm
•    Be good

Don’ts:
•    Be rude and say No for being lazy
•    Be like “who cares”
•    Be mean
•    Let the impression built that you never help anyone.


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