I have a colleague at work who we dubbed as “Mr. No”. Why? He would practically say “no” to all the incredulous demands even from our bosses. Knowing our company mantra of “making things possible”, saying “no” to our bosses really needs a lot of guts to do.
Declining a request however, does not necessarily mean a bad thing. Albeit, denying someone’s request or demand especially those in the upper level of the heirarchy in your organization or even your clients is very hard to do. In fact, it is an innate human nature to please and not create conflict or confrontation with others.
But learning to say “no” is one way of boosting your productivity. How? It allows you to screen out unnecessary things that may take you out of your focus from the important things that can add value to you and to your work. This is specifically handy when you feel that you are already loaded with work which in turn affects your performance and productivity.
But how do we say “no” without having the guilt feeling that you might have offended the other party? Here are three points that you might want to consider.
1. Have a solid reason of saying “no”. This is very important since you may need to do some explaining when you decline someone of their request or demand. Tell the other party why you honestly cannot accept the request or demand. This will help others understand why it is not possible for you to take on a certain task.
2. Propose a compromise. If the other party still negotiates with you to do the job even after you explain why you cannot do an extra load, suggest ways on how can he be able to pull through the task without compromising your own schedule. Either you help him find someone who can help him with his request or negotiate with him for you to do the task after you finish your priorities. If you choose the latter, be transparent on when can you actually accommodate him so he can weigh his options. In this way, it would lessen the hard feelings of being declined because (1) you are saying “no” while trying to be helpful and (2) the other party may come to his own realization (hopefully), that you really cannot do his request and may choose to find somebody else to do it.
3. Be wary of your tone. This is one of the keys to successfully turn down someone without sounding offensive. Oftentimes, even with our good reason and intention, people misunderstood our context just because of the way we deliver our message. If you sound to be argumentative or irritated to other party, he will dismiss your explanation as just just mere alibi to escape from the task even if you are telling the truth. On the other hand, people tend to accept your reason if you say it in a calm or even a little apologetic voice. Just don’t be too overly apologetic else they might see you as a scheming person.
If all else fail, you can always find someone to back you up to convince the other person to just let it go. 😊