We are often asked for tips on how to say No with impact. Having the skill to say no, thus setting boundaries at work and in your personal life, is essential.
Saying no can be difficult, but it’s an important skill to learn. When you say no, you’re setting boundaries and protecting your time, energy, and well-being. You are also demonstrating that you respect yourself and wish others to respect you rather than take you for granted.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of always saying yes. Perhaps you want to be helpful and keen; possibly there is a culture of never saying no, or you wish to be visible by always saying “Yes”. The problem is that you could risk being overworked: inundated with more and more work because you say yes. Also, you could be seen as a ‘soft option’ or “Good Old Sue, she’ll do it”. Remember very successful people know how to say no!
Here are some tips on how to say no with impact:
- Be direct and honest. Avoid ‘sugar coating’ your response or make excuses. Simply say, “No, I can’t do that.” The important point is to say it clearly and assertively. This demonstrates your boundaries.
- Be respectful. Even if you’re saying no to a request that you would like to say yes to, it’s important to be respectful of the person who is asking. Provided it is legal and moral the other person has the right to ask. You have the right to say no. However there are no gains from being grumpy or angry when someone asks: you might need their help at another time!
- Be clear about your reasons. We sometimes work with clients who have a culture of never saying NO; resulting in some people being overwhelmed with work. Being able to explain why you can’t do this work demonstrates to the other person that you are already overworked. If you always say yes, how can others recognise you already have too much to do.
- Be willing to negotiate. If feel confident enough, you can try to negotiate a compromise. This is a very useful skill to develop. The “I already have one deadline I need to complete tomorrow; could someone else do this and I will complete the work for you” is an example of negotiating.
- Don’t feel guilty. It’s okay to say no. If it is something you feel uncomfortable doing; you are already busy or you have other priorities you are not obligated to do anything that you don’t want to do. Remember, people won’t dislike you for saying no; but they will become clearer of your boundaries. If however, they try to manipulate you into doing the work or threaten you, you still have a right to say no.
Here are some examples of how you can say no with impact:
- ” I can’t help you with that right now. I’m already swamped with work.”
- “I appreciate you asking, but I’m not available to volunteer this weekend. I have other plans.”
- “I’m flattered that you think I’d be a good fit for the job, but I’m not interested at this time.”
- “I don’t feel comfortable doing this.”
- “I have two other deadlines to complete for you today; could you ask someone else to complete one of these two and I will do your work as a priority”.