Over the last few weeks I have been asked, multiple times, how to say No to unreasonable demands by employers. Even though individuals have been working remotely from home, they are being asked to do more tasks and work longer hours. Here is a recent article on this.
What is difficult for employees is that there are often underlying threats such as:
You have more time because you are not commuting.
We are all in this together: I’m working harder, so should you.
There are going to be redundancies later this year, and those who work hard are less likely to lose their jobs.
This is a crisis; we need every hand on deck to deliver this to the client. (But this is a weekly occurrence).
Or you might be worried that:
* The other person might be angry with you if you say no.
* They might not like you.
* They might think you are work shy, lazy or selfish.
Also, quite rightly encouraged to be kind, generous and supportive of others. And there can be fear that we are going against the #bekind philosophy. Yet sadly there are individuals who will always ask other people to do things for them, when they are fully capable of doing things themselves.
And….. there are individuals who will take you for granted because they know you don’t say no. Or they will keep asking people until they get a ‘Yes’!
It can be very easy to be impacted by always saying yes: by not setting clear boundaries so you are taken for granted. And sadly, there are individuals who won’t value you: who will take you for granted because you always say yes. The “Good old Susan” syndrome.
However, I fully appreciate that for business owners and partners in firms, this is a very worrying time; keeping businesses going; avoiding laying off staff: surviving. But there has to be a reasonable balance, particularly when individuals’ wellbeing is at stake. I also appreciate that occasionally there are crises where everyone is needed to assist in a task. Asking everyone’s help is part of being a team. But if this becomes a pattern: and clearly team leaders are relying on everyone’s goodwill on a very regular basis, rather than running projects effectively or employing additional staff to complete the work, it is time to start saying no sometimes!
But here are the rules: if it is legal and moral, people have a right to ask. And you have a right to say NO, without being manipulated, shouted at or even threatened!
One of my clients was constantly being asked to do additional work, beyond her set hours, with no extra pay. This meant she was doing up to 10 hours a week unpaid pay. She could see her colleagues never working late, leaving on time, yet she was always doing additional work with no financial rewards. When she recognised that she actually had the right to say “no” and that, sadly, she was being taken for granted from being helpful and generous. She asked me how to say No! We came up with a script, which helped her to be able to say No. She was able to say clearly and with confidence that all of her time was already allocated for the week. If her manager wanted to move some of her work to the following week, he should assess which is most urgent. As a result of this, the manager slowly realised that my client was no longer going to take on additional work and he needed to delegate to other team members. My client felt empowered, valued more and more confident in the workplace.
How do you say No?
- Keep things direct (i.e. not personal)
- Used focused concise, professional language.
- Avoid saying sorry
- Maintain eye contact with the person and open, confident body language
- Use a confident voice, rather than a timid or ‘whinny’ voice.
- If the other person gets angry, aggressive or manipulative, repeat the NO statement in a calm, professional way.