How to say no - good advice! - Business Works
BW brief

How to say no - good advice!

Adi Gaskell, CMI
W e're told all the time that we need to find ways of saying yes. FedEx famously have this as part of their DNA, whereby staff are encouraged to find any opportunity they can to say yes to customers, to find ways to make things happen.

Ordinarily I'd agree, saying yes and having a proactive approach to management whereby you are open to opportunities is a wonderful trait to have. However, just as having the agility to say yes is crucial to successful leadership, so too is the ability to know when to say no.

If you're a talented individual then calls on your time and attention will not be in short supply. As time is finite you will need to develop the ability to say no to enable you to focus on the things that really matter, and the things you can deliver most value to. So here are a few tips to help you say no without potentially upsetting the other person:

  1. Clarify your refusal: Don't just say no, you can't do something, say why you can't do it, and why other things are higher up your list of priorities.
  2. Offer another time: If now isn't a good time, say so, but then offer another time that may be easier for you to lend a helping hand.
  3. Be gentle: Remember that if someone is asking for your help they are probably in an hour of need, so let them down gently if you can't help.>
  4. Don't make snap decisions: If it's a complicated request being made of you, take your time and think over the implications of saying yes. Better that than making a hasty decision you regret later. Say you'll think about it and let them know when they can expect your decision.
  5. Consider the timeliness of your rejection: This is particularly common with salesmen calling up. It may not be something you can do right now, but circumstances can change so try not to burn your bridges.
  6. Pass the buck: You may not actually be the best person to help out. If there's someone better placed, pass the request onto them instead.
  7. If all else fails: If all else fails, just say no.

Learning when to say no will allow you to devote more time to the things you are especially good at. Hopefully these tips will help you on the road to better productivity.

How do you say no?

Adi Gaskell is the editor of The Management Blog for the Chartered Management Institute, a professional body for managers and leaders in the UK: The CMI Management Blog

Tweet article
BW on TwitterBW RSS feed