Can You Say No?

That is a tough and real question to ask yourself. Can you honestly say no to someone? You know you have endless work to do, important deadlines, and someone asks you to do something – what do you do? Do you pile it on, or do you find a way to say no? Taking on too much can cause burnout and cause unnecessary stress at work that I’m sure most of us do not need.

Most of us think that if we say “no” that we’re seen in a negative light in that person’s eyes. What if that weren’t the case?

Don’t use no as an excuse to get out of something.

There is a huge difference between saying no to get out of doing something, and saying no because you are legitimately busy and overwhelmed. We all know who those people are, and we find ourselves sometimes taking on that work unnecessarily. What to do, what to do? Sit down with whomever asked you about taking on the work, and show them what you’re working on. Show them what is due when, and how it impacts the overall project or event. Even better if you can give time estimates on how long you think each module of work will take, can shine you in a pretty positive light. You’re not just saying no, you’re explaining the overall impact it will cause the company, if the work on your plate doesn’t get done. Bosses or project managers don’t want to harm the end result – that’s just silly business.

If you think taking on additional work will cause your current work to suffer, say something. Being honest is the best policy (early life lessons from my parents) and shows the responsibility and care you have for the overall project. Win-WIn!

Are you the best suited person for this work?

Sure, you could take on the work even if you’re not busy, but are you really the person that should be taking on this work? Is this something that compliments your workplace strengths? Sure you could help, but perhaps finding someone with better strengths would be a more efficient use of company time and money. Try not to downplay your strengths, because sometimes our bosses see things we do not see in ourselves. Sometimes they are right (it’s our little secret), but you if you really think what they’ve asked of you is not possible, sit down and have an honest conversation about why you aren’t the right person.

Saying no is not catastrophic to your career.

Most of us stress about daring to say no, even when we have legitimate reasons because we think that it’ll cause damage to our growing careers, or tick off our boss. Saying no doesn’t reflect negatively on you (unless you’re saying no for all the wrong reasons), but rather shows that you’re not willing to burn yourself out, or cause missed deadlines, or imperfect events. Sometimes it’s inevitable, and that’s just the nature of the industry but saying no should always be a viable option when necessary.

As for the clients, that’s a whole other topic!