You could barely turn on the radio this spring without hearing Meghan Trainor espouse the beauty of the word “no.” Her anthem might have been all about girl power, but this single word remains powerful for any situation, including your work life.
Of course there are times that “no” is not the judicious thing to say for career advancement: Part of the puzzle is knowing when to say “no” and when not to. The articles below have helpful tips for when and how to employ the power of no.
MAKE SURE IT ALIGNS WITH YOUR PRIORITIES
“Prioritization is critical in today’s 24/7 work environment. I keep a list of long-term and short-term priorities and if a task or project doesn’t fit in one of those buckets, 99% of the time I decline it. My best tip for saying no is to be straightforward and not dance around the subject. Explain that the task, project or activity doesn’t align with your current priorities and, if the situation changes, you will revisit the topic. Also, sometimes you can suggest an alternative solution.” — Forbes.
A “NO” NOW IS BETTER THAN A “NO” LATER
“Instead of saying ‘yes’ now and disappointing the person later when you fail to fulfill the request, say ‘no’ now. Do not say ‘maybe or ‘probably.’ It comes across as unclear. Most people appreciate a solid ‘no’ more than a ‘maybe.’ It’s indecision that can drain energy from all parties involved.” — Entrepreneur.
OR, SOFTEN THE NO, AS NEEDED
“Release the guilt: ‘I really do appreciate the offer and I wish I could help.’ That opening does a lot to counter the ‘But….no’ that’s the answer at the end of the reply.” — Bizwomen.
SAY NO CONFIDENTLY
- Use a harsh or hesitant tone, and don’t be overly polite either. Instead, strive for a steady and clear no.
- Hold back the real reason you’re saying no. To limit frustration, give reasons with good weight up front.
- Distort your message or act tentatively because you’re trying to keep your colleague happy. Be honest and make sure your no is understood.”