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Four Learning To Say No At Work Strategies
25 Feb 2019

Learning To Say No At Work As A Vital Success Skill

Legacy17, via their Twitter page, referred a chain of tweets about learning to say no at work. Twenty people were in the chain. Legacy17 was encouraging me to add my thoughts. Reasons ran the gamut, from “yes” saying no is important to “no” it kills motivation.

Legacy17 advocated “yes” and buttressed their support further by declaring it a skill. I agree. After all, it might only be one short word, but it’s like “love.” We can say it many ways. We can use it in many situations. Saying “no” to a subordinate, to a colleague and to a boss all differ.

Learning to say no at work is knowing that it's more than the outcome, "yes" or "no."

“No” is like “love.” There are many ways to say it. Therefore, there’s no reason to avoid it.

Four Strategies For Learning To Say No At Work

A key, if not the key, strategy for learning to say no at work is knowing that it’s more than the outcome, “yes” or “no.” Think process. That means listening counts. Considering does too. Also, discussing and asking questions play big.

Expanding the field is another key strategy. The thought or action is “no” here but “yes” there. “Thank you for your offer to help. I don’t need it here, but I have another project that seems to need your talents.”

A third key strategy reminds people who makes the decision. Many love to give advice but avoid decisions. Try this. For a project ask, “Who should make ‘X’ decision?” Just watch how silent the room goes. In the above Twitter chain, check out the tweet by Elle Bushfield. She tells how this strategy works for her. Elle’s tweet includes a supporting video.

Finally, the fourth strategy fast forwards people’s thinking. It works well in ideation discussions. “I like that thought. How would you address ‘X’ concern?” “How would it change if we add ‘X’ condition?” Or, “Ok, good, let’s run with it. What is the likely outcome? What do we do if ‘X’ happens though?”

The Price For Not Saying No

In short, there are so many ways to say, “No,” that there’s almost no reason for avoiding it. This becomes even more obvious when we consider the price of not saying it. It begins with coming across as “wishy-washy,” dishonest, vague and indecisive.

Yes, people often opt for politeness. It’s a form of lying though. We’re not only being false with our words. We’re false with our emotions.

It’s also patronizing. We assume the other is not mature enough to handle our decision. It’s insulting too. We assume the other can’t see we’re “dancing” around the issue.

When this happens our status in their eyes tank. It also encourages people to live down to our expectations. They fear reality. They play dumb. After all, there’s a reason why we can’t trust them with a simple, honest “no.”


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