How to say “no”

 

 

Last week I gave a workshop “get more done with less stress” at KPN and many participants said they find it challenging: how to say no.

 

Is saying “no” challenging for you as well?

 

For me it certainly is! Because I LOVE to please people (sounds familiar?). I want people to think positively of me… and when a conversation is in a good flow, I cringe at the thought of having to abruptly break it.

 

So this has been my challenge…

 

Striving to be the “Perfect” Manager, I want to have a positive relationship with every person I deal with. That means always doing what I promise (and more), being on time for meetings, helping them out… and all of that on only 8 working hours per day.

 

CONCLUSION: if I cannot say “no”, I cannot stop a conversation and I will be late for the next one! (the next person does not deserve that).

 

And if I cannot say “no” to extra work, I overload myself so that I have to disappoint other colleagues (or worse: my wife) at a later point in time.

 

For these reasons, I decided to add a few standard sentences into my toolbelt. These are two of my best sentences which I can use in almost every situation. They are clear, firm and respectful at the same time. They demonstrate leadership and show that I am in charge of my time.

 

To exit a conversation: “I’m sorry, our time is up. I have to be in time for my next meeting.”

 

To say no (“not now”) to additional work: “For me to help you with that, I would have to create room in my full schedule. The tasks on my planning are the single most important things I could be working on. Do you agree that they are more important than this other thing? I am happy to take 2 minutes and help you think of another way how you can achieve the outcome that you are after.”

 

What is your strategy for saying “no”?

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