How to say ‘NO’ without offending peers and bosses

It is must to realise that saying ‘no’ too is a critical skill that one needs to cultivate. Caution has to be taken while refusing otherwise it can be misinterpreted by others.

Lavita Nathani

Saying ‘NO’ at a workplace is an issue that even seasoned professionals face from time to time. This can be stressful, especially for freshers’ as they perceive this as one their toughest challenges. They more often than not end up saying ‘yes’ in order to avoid being judged or coming across as brash while saying a ‘no’.

Hence, it’s important to break this down into clear parts of ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’.

  1. Understanding the “WHAT”
    Each time we say a “no” to doing something, we are saying a “yes” to do something else. Thus, it is important to understand what you are saying no to and what you are saying yes to. This requires an ability to “choose” amongst options. For example: At the workplace, you may have multiple tasks, deadlines and deliverables to be accomplished – In such cases it’s important that you prioritise your work and put your organisational skills to good use before you jump on to say a “yes” or a “no”.

Quick tips: Have a complete understanding of the situation, line up the tasks in hand basis importance, objectively evaluate whether you are saying “No” to the full task or you can contribute to parts of it. Whatever you choose, give your 100 % .

  1. I Understanding the “WHY”
    Be clear about why you cannot take up a particular task and what you are doing in place of it. Subsequently decisions can only be taken once you have assessed the benefits you will accrue by doing it and the benefits of doing something else in its place. Being able to understand and being convinced about the “why” is a prerequisite, to good decision making and communication of your decision.

Take up tasks that help you learn, grow proactively and make time for them as much as you can. If you think that by taking a particular task up, you will end up de-energized or will not get enough time to spend on your anchors, then exercise the choice to say “no”.

III. Understanding the “HOW”
Once you have reasoned the work tasks out, re-ordered and re-looked at your deliverables, you are in a much better position to communicate your inability to take something up. It is recommended that one show empathy while communicating a “no”.

If there are time constraints and you are needed to respond to a project immediately, try buying time if you are unable to shift tasks at hand to a later time.

Remember the below pointers to master the art of saying ‘no’:

  1. Empathise and understand the requirements:Listen actively and use phrases like “I get it” , “I understand it needs to be done by this timeline”
  2. Seek advice in re-prioritising if required:It is recommended that you share your task list openly and transparently with your manager/boss. Start with “While I am very happy and eager to work on it, I am struggling with achieving some of the items parked on my to-do, I was wondering if you could help me re-prioritise”. This just shows how thoughtful, open and structured you are towards your work.
  3. Be objective:Communicate effectively explaining your reasoning and your thought process for arriving at the decision.

Most importantly, do not keep stakeholders waiting for a response. If it’s a yes, it should mean a yes. Do not over-commit and under-deliver due to paucity of time. It not only leaves others with an impression that your work lacks the quality it needs and that you cannot plan your work well.

Remember there will always be fire burning around at the workplace, whether you are the one who should douse it – is for you to choose and communicate.


Source: Times Jobs

Date: 14/09/2016


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s