3 Steps and Tips to Say: No

Time Management
Knowledge Center

Best Practices

Sign up

Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

3 Steps and Tips to Say: No

As a professional you're actively managing your time and the tasks and goals you work on. This does mean that at some point you will have to say "No" to requests made upon you by other people. You probably already have more tasks than you can perform...

Unfortunately for many people, saying no is hard. They should learn to say goodbye to being a people pleaser and learn how to confidently say no to someone without feeling bad about it. Luckliy, saying "No" is a skill which you can learn and practice. Here are 3 straightforward steps for saying "No" in approximate order:
  • STEP 1. AVOID AN IMPULSIVE REACTION. Buy some time and first do a quick Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) of the task you are asked to perform, considering your goals and values. That includes the opportunity cost (the cost of not doing the task). Whether you actually like the task, or the person making the request, should not dominate your choice.
  • STEP 2. KEEP IT SHORT. Be firm when you express the "No", but give a short explanation and be courteous to the person making the request. Don't offer weak excuses or beat around the bush. And don't fall into the trap of wanting to be “nice” and avoid hurting other people’s feelings. Remember you are saying no to the request, not to the person. If the person who is asking you to perform the task is your manager, it makes sense to give a more comprehensive explanation, and be more open for discussion. You might share the main points of your CBA with him/her and ask for his/her opinion.
  • STEP 3. OPTIONALLY you can offer some (limited) help or coaching or another alternative to the person you just said "No" to. But again: only if it is worth that effort from you. Do not fall into the trap of using many words, starting to apologize, appearing insecure, etc.!

Practice the above 3 steps a couple of times (in front of a mirror and with a friend) and pay particular attention to your body language and facial expressions during the process. You want to appear firm and kind at the same time. Have a bit of fun and remember Warren Buffett famous words:
"The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything".
Sources:
Jonathan Alpert, "7 Tips for Saying No Effectively", Inc.com
Christina Park, "Five Guilt-Free Tips For Saying 'No'", Forbes.com
Amy Gallo, "Saying No to More Work", HBR OnPoint, Winter 2018, pp. 28-29
BBC Worklife, "Why saying ‘no’ will boost your career"

  Brian Mitchell
Partner, United States
 

Saying No: Not Always Easy, But Always Worth It

I like this simple (but not always easy) approach (...)

  Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom
 

Just Say No, if You Can

Essentially agree. If your LINE-SENIOR is delegati (...)

  Jolanta Sz
Professor, Poland
 

Assertiveness for Saying No

It is said that assertiveness can be learnt. Easy (...)

  Anonymous
 

Saying 'No' to Last-minute Translations Requests for Short Jobs from Big-volume Customers

@ Jolanta Sz: Many of my customers require immedi (...)

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands
 

Saying no to a Client

@Anonymous: This topic so far was not aimed at a c (...)

  Anonymous
 

The Ability to Say 'No' to a Request

To say "no" you must be morally upright and be fir (...)

  Olaf de Hemmer
Business Consultant, France
 

Say NO (or YES) Without Hurting The Other

Saying 'NO' is not that hard. What is hard is not (...)

  Sridhar Gopal
Management Consultant, India
 

Saying No is a Virtue in the Right Circumstances

I never had the guts to say No while I was a loyal (...)

  Bill Hassey
Professor, United States
 

Saying No... with Options

There are so many times we are called on to "do" s (...)

  Anonymous
 

Saying NO to your 'boss'

I like these steps and hope they also work for eve (...)

  Pierre Accari
Consultant, Lebanon
 

Saying No and Being Assertive

There is a good book about the subject. It is titl (...)

  Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands
 

Saying NO to your 'boss'

@Anonymous: I think in your situation the steps st (...)

  Maurice Hogarth
Consultant, United Kingdom
 

Managing your Manager Assertively

@Anonymous: It would seem that there is a need for (...)

Start a new forum topic

 

More on Time Management
Summary
Forum
The Role of Subject Knowledge in TM
Dealing with Distractions
Why TM? Reasons and Benefits
How to Create Awareness for TM
🔥Practical TM for Managers (Shimkin)
TM Quotations / Quotes
How to Effectively Schedule Meetings with Attendants from Different Timezones?
Should Employees have more Sense of Urgency?
Success Conditions for TM
Best Practices
Personal Energy Management
TM Laws | Principles of TM
The Getting Things Done (GTD) Method (David Allen)
The Time/Utility Matrix for Prioritizing What to Learn
3 Steps and Tips to Say: No
Personal TM and the Pomodoro Technique
Basic Prioritization Skills Within the Work Environment are Lacking These Days
I Prefer Work Management: Managing to Work in the Available Time
The Ivy Lee Method: The Simplest Productivity Technique?
TM by Effective Delegation
Individual Differences in Applying TM Techniques
The 18 Minute Technique to Plan your Day
Group TM Excercise: Time Bandits
Consider a Virtual Management Assistant
Tips to Motivate Yourself for Boring Tasks, Untimed Tasks and Ones you don't Like
Special Interest Group

Do you have a keen interest in Time Management? Become our SIG Leader

Time Management
Knowledge Center



About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2021 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V15.8 - Last updated: 31-7-2021. All names ™ of their owners.