Say "no" without saying "no" and when to say "no"


Happy New Year, may 2022 be better for us all.

Saying "no" is something individuals may find this very difficult to do especially if it means saying“no” to your supervisor. This might be particularly challenging if you are aperson who likes to make others happy.  

Yet, the reality is that if you are already having a difficult time managing your time, saying “yes” might be the worst thing you can do as the work will simply pile-up. You will essentially be creating another unaccomplished task for yourself and feel even more stress and pressure. 

Understandably saying “no” is not always possible yet if you can demonstrate that you are already working on something important that brings value, you can indeed say“no” in a reasonable manner. 

For example, you might start by mentioning what you are working on and asking your supervisor, “do you think this takes priority over what I am doing at the moment?” 

Or, “I understand that you would like me to do this, yet what I am working on right now will take me at least the entire day to finish and it was flagged with high importance.” 

Also, you can present alternatives, which is always a good approach, “would it be understandable if I came to see you about this after I finish what I am doing at the moment?” 

I have proposed this idea to multiple people with the same result; it worked. When I followed-up with them they all told me basically the same thing, “nothing bad happened when I said no without saying no.” 

You can also use the template "Stop doing things at work that don’t matter" that I will post in the free downloads section to help you focus your efforts on work that really matters and has impact in your role.

Now allow me to provide another narrrative where it might be interesting to say "no," or I should say encourage the other person to say "no."

Let's say you wanted a certain day off and knew it might be challenging for your supervisor to approve your request for one reason or another. 

Instead of asking, "can I have next Tuesday off?" 

Try asking, "can I have next Tuesday off if you think it is operationally feasible and enough people are in and please feel free to say "no" if you think it will not be possible?"

I would be very curious to hear the response to a request where you allow the person the opportunity to say "no." 

In the first instances, they might feel uncomfortable and maybe even feel bad if they have to say "no."

In the second instance, by giving them the space to say "no," it might place them a bit more at ease and that might influence their mindset towards being more empathtic to your request.

When asking a certain type of question whereby you want something from the other person, this approach can garner different results than what you might typicall get with just asking directly.

As always, I am here to planet seeds. I hope you will try it and send me feedback at your leisure.