In this article we explore 5 Ways to Say No at Work. One of the most common challenges clients share with us during Career Consultations is that they feel overworked. While there is a season (especially in your mid twenties) where you need to simply put your head down and work as hard as you can, this needs to be sustainable.
Workplace Communication Tips
You can change this feeling of being overworked by:
- improving your workplace communication
- learning to say no (not literally, please see the scenarios below)
- mapping out how to better manage the expectations they have created with their managers and co-workers
Am I describing you?
Most people are used to them saying yes when asked to do something. Many of us tend to drop everything when a more senior person asks us to complete a task and then feel stressed or work late because we did not allow enough time to get other important work tasks done or projects completed.
With some simple re-thinking about what to say when people approach you, you can change how you respond when you are asked to do something. This will help get more of your own priority task list done AND still manage to help those people around you.
This does not mean you should take the ‘it’s not my job to do that’ approach. What I am suggesting is that you do not automatically say yes when people ask you to do something. Your time at work is precious and so trying this new approach will help sort through who genuinely needs your help and those who are potentially taking advantage of you!
How to Say No at Work
Saying no at work does not literally mean saying ‘no’. It means really listening to the request and understanding the best way to help the person complete their task. The mistake many people make is assuming you have to be the one to complete the task each time. There is definitely a type of colleague who will always hunt down the co-workers who are very keen to be helpful and so will always say yes when asked to do something. If you find yourself doing a great job of meeting other people’s needs at work, but not such a great job of getting your own work done then you need to learn how to say no. It’s the hardest word to find as it is made up of two letters that are hidden deep in the middle of the alphabet and people might not like us if we use them.
Here are 5 effective ways to say no which are intended to help solve and help, but also makes sure you are not necessarily the one taking on the task.
Ishan: Karen, can you please do this for me today?
Karen: I could, but I will not have time to finish what I promised Roberta I would do for her today. Can it wait?
Veronica: Karen, can you please do this for me today?
Karen: Who else can you ask to help you with this? This is the sort of thing Rupert does really well.
Van: Karen, can you please do this for me today?
Karen: I am busy at the moment, but can do it for you next week.
Sally: Karen, can you please do this for me today?
Karen: If I do this for you, I will be unable to complete what I am working on for you now. Is it more important than the task we are currently aiming to complete today?
Andrew: Karen, can you please do this for me today?
Karen: I can not do this for you today, but I can show you how to do it.