Making positive impressions is important to most of us, whether we’d like to admit it or not, in our social lives, our relationships, with new people and, of course, in the workplace.  Part of our fundamental need to fit in and make that good impression is pleasing your colleagues, managers, bosses and even subordinates. But it’s equally important to know when you need to say no. The fear that there will be consequences is often too much of a persuasion to just say ‘yes’.

Saying no at work isn’t easy, for some less than others, but how do you handle saying no effectively in the workplace?


When is saying no at work okay?

Is this request going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back?  If it is, then say no. If you have a lot on your plate, and this last request will mean you struggle to manage your workload, then you should feel free and able to say no to the request you can’t handle. Is the request jeopardising your integrity?  If it’s something that you don’t feel comfortable doing, then maintaining your integrity and your trust in yourself and your judgement is worth standing up for.  

Is it outside of your skill set?  Often in the workplace we’re asked to take on tasks that are slightly (or a lot) outside of our skill set. This can add to the issue of overloading, but it can also mean that the job won’t be done well, not a good out come for either party. 

Set those boundaries: If you refuse to say no, regularly give in and say yes when you don’t want to or realistically can’t, it sets a precedent. The more you say yes, the more you will be expected to do so going forward, making it increasingly difficult for you to say no. 

Saying No At Work

How to say no:

There’s much to be said for how we communicate with people, the words we choose, the tone we use and even our body language. When you’re asked to do something, take on a task, or help someone out, the way you say ‘no’ can be strongly correlated with how successful your turn down is.  Instead of just a flat out ‘no’, try ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I can’t this time’. Ask a little about the task that is being asked of you first, if you understand clearly what you’re being asked to take on, you can answer more confidently ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  This also gives you time to think the request through before answering with assertiveness.

Don’t be afraid of saying ‘no’.  If your reasons for saying no at work are just, then you should have no fear of turning them down. Speak up to your management, boss or colleagues, speak to them about your reasons and your answer will be better received. Face to face is a better way to say no, while it’s much easier for you to reply via an email, shielded from a possible awkward exchange, a firm refusal face to face means you can explain your no and there’s less likelihood of any confusion over tone.

This blog has been provided by DiscoverWork, who offer an alternative approach to the talent search experience.

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