Getting better at saying “no”

Many of my clients know how bullish I am on the book The Power of the Positive No, which my own leadership coach recommended to me many years ago. This book outlines many effective ways to say ‘no,’ while preserving relationships and keeping a project or objective on track. So, if you or someone in your office has trouble saying no, and subsequently becoming overextended, frustrated and resentful; this is a fabulous book for your library. 

Here are just a few tips we could start trying today to effectively say ‘no.’

  1. When your boss asks you to execute against a large, overwhelming assignment, try asking them to help you prioritize aspects of the project. For example, “Bob, I will certainly do my best to get this accomplished in this short lead time, however, to ensure I focus on the right aspects, what are the key priorities within the project?” This puts the ball in his court, forces him to articulate the orders of priority, and gives him the control over the order of outcome.
  2. When a co-worker requests you to drop everything to help them, try this: “You know I would love to help you, and I certainly remain committed to our collective success; however, I have a similar deadline which I must deliver against, as well. I will check back with you after I have completed my assignment, and we can go from there.” You might not be as formal as this, but your get the gist of the message.

We can say ‘no,’ re-frame what we CAN do, and still maintain a level of professionalism, respect, and reliability to get the job done.