From our personal lives to the workplace, most of us usually take on as much as, or more, than our plate can hold. We stretch ourselves so thin, in most cases making commitments that mostly focus on fulfilling others’ needs.
But there is an art to saying no that makes it less awkward, & which gets easier with a little tact and practice. Turning down loved ones, coworkers, and especially your boss can be tricky - responding with a knee-jerk “no” is generally hard to pull off without some negative repercussions.
Here’s are some tips:
1. First, evaluate the request: do you have the capability & capacity to fulfill this request without compromising yourself, your values, & other commitments? If top-priority, can adjustments be made to your existing schedule/commitments to accommodate the new request? Is this something you really want to decline? .
2. Be kind, but firm: Whoever is seeking your help is probably going to be unhappy with your answer. Show empathy through your tone and choice of words that the problem remains unresolved and still in their hands, but be sure they understand your answer is “no”
3. Don’t beat around the bush: DO NOT be that person who over-commits and then flakes or doesn’t deliver as promised. It’s a quick way to lose credibility, and I can guarantee, whoever sought your help would rather you turn them down off the bat when they would have time/opportunity to seek assistance elsewhere, than to be disappointed with the end-result. Avoid delaying-tactics - “I’ll try” & “Let me get back you” wastes time and sets false expectations. .
4. Manage expectations (yours + theirs): You can do & say everything as well as possible, but know that they are probably going to still be disappointed & that’s ok. A great way to soften the blow of rejection, is to offer an alternate solution. Maybe you can even assist to a lesser degree? If so, state clearly what you can do instead.
We all want to be helpful and don’t want to attract negative backlash, especially at work, but you don’t want to overextend & risk your productivity, credibility and sanity!