It is always a daunting task when we are in a situation where we have no option but to say No to someone who has made a request or asked for a favor or maybe given us work to do. At times, we just cannot say no even if we want to, owing to a variety of reasons.
As someone who used to find it extremely difficult to say NO, I can assist you a bit with few ways to say NO and still be polite and warm. My boss at my first organization told me that I need to learn to say No as I am over-working due to my own fault. She explained that nobody is going to take the blame nor help me out, so why go out of my way and do things that I am not supposed to or can’t do at all.
I followed her advice and eventually was in a better head space, plus I also realized that my productivity has become better as the extra load was a worry of the past!
Few ways that I used were:-
1) Suggest another individual
When you are working in a team, there are other members as well. Suggest another person who has comparatively lesser work or is much better at multi-tasking.
2) Be honest
There are a lot of times when you cannot help a person at all. You may have a great rapport, but when there are deadlines to meet and you cannot afford extra things on your already-full platter, be honest and make it clear to the opposite party that you will not be able to do the task.
My boss always said, “If I ask you to do something within 2hrs, if you know you can’t, tell me in advance. Don’t wait for the 2hrs to end in order to inform me that you need 2 more.”
A very simple thing to understand and follow and trust me, it makes life really simple.
3) Set boundaries and targets
When I was in hotel sales, I had it clear in my head that I will respond to all emails on time and unless the paper-work is important, do it at the end of the day. Since I was in hotel sales, we had to meet guests, do a show-around of the property and send proposals. Understanding which task is important and which is urgent and which task can be completed at a later stage – is extremely essential as it will help you stay focused on the major things which need immediate action.
4) Pass on the requests for another colleague
Just because you have received an email in your inbox, doesn’t mean you need to respond to it. See the query and if it is meant for someone else, pass it on.
For example, if you deal with 5 sales accounts of your company and other colleagues handle various others, forward the requests that reach you through their clients. Do not hesitate to forward the emails as you are meant to handle your queries and any new one that may fall under the category that you manage.
5) Set ground rules
I was not comfortable with pro-active sales. This is where you have to step in the market and visit clients to generate business. I always preferred Reactive sales, where in the staff stays within the hotel and caters to its clients. Thus everywhere I gave an interview, I made it clear in the interview itself that I do not wish to work in the proactive team.
There are some things that you can’t do and some you do not want to. Whatever it is, make it clear, set your limits and make it known. Be vocal to avoid misunderstandings or complications at a later stage.
6) Use affirmative even if you are replying in a negative way
If you are too shy to be upfront or feel guilt for saying say directly, just say something like “I would love to help you, but I have a confirmed appointment for the same time” OR “I really wish I could help, but I am not going to be in town due to prior personal commitments.”
When you say such statements genuinely, it can be a little helpful and get you out of the work which demanded extra hours and at the same time keeps you in the good books of your colleagues. Of course, please give an honest reason when you decline!
So these are few basic yet simple and polite ways to say NO and have a life which lets you maintain your sanity.
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