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How to Say 'No' at Work ?

One of the hardest words to pronounce at workplace is “NO”. Workplace brings with it new responsibilities and better opportunities to grow. Many of them may be very exciting and you may not want to turn them down for fear of not coming by them later on. Some of them may not be very acceptable to you. You may already be tied down with work or you may think that you will not be able to cope with them. For fear of being labeled incapable you may accept the new responsibilities. Whatever be the case you are one of the many people who has to learn to say NO at work without appearing snobbish or incompetent. You must say yes only when you mean it and you must say NO that sounds like a yes. There are some manners in which to say NO as well as provide feedback without appearing incompetent or uncooperative.

1. Do not commit to any responsibility immediately.

Whatever the assignment or project that is offered to you, you must take some time to think over it and make a decision. Go to your calendar and check your workload. Find out what your priorities are and determine if the responsibility can be fulfilled in a successful manner within the time that is given to you. Do not say, "Yes, I will do it and I will finish it by tomorrow," instead, you can say, "I will not be able to do it now as I must finish project X by (date), but I should be able to do it next week."

2. How important is the new assignment or project?

You should know how important this new assignment is with respect to yourself as well as to the person who is asking you to do it. You must understand why the person needs it. You should look at all the parameters before deciding how important it is to you. The person who needs the assignment may not be looking at the big picture herself.

3. Give feedback.

Giving feedback will make the person who places the request understand why you are unable to do the project. Talk about the responsibilities you have in your hands so that this person can understand your situation. This will ensure that the person is not critical of you.

4. Set realistic expectations.

You must take all things into consideration so that expectations are accurate and realistic. Make sure that you have enough breathing space. Do not undertake projects simply because you want to compete with someone or you want them spoken about.

You can use expressions like, “My plate is too full at the moment”, “I am not sure I would be comfortable with that”, “I do not think I am the best person for that job”, “I might not enjoy that kind of work”, “I have other commitments right now”, “There is no room in my calendar for that job”, “I need to shift focus to my personal life now”, “Can I work on that sometime later?” Sometimes, just a plain “NO” would do the job.

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