Work is a complex environment. There are many intricacies to successfully getting through each day. A big part is interacting with others. A big part is working with each other. Requests are made of every individual. The problem is that we tend to always acquiesce to those requests. It is okay to say no.
Why Do We Always Say Yes?
It is ingrained in us to always say yes to things at work. We don’t want to offend the wrong people or give them cause to hurt our career. We always want to be seen as being a good employee and willing to do whatever needs to be done to get recognized positively.
We want to look good. There is nothing wrong with that. We should strive to do that, but we shouldn’t over commit where we will only fail. Always saying yes will get us into trouble.
Why Saying Yes Hurts Us
It might not make sense as to how saying yes to someone can hurt us. It can. I have experienced it.
Saying yes is a commitment. You are agreeing to do something. Can you really do it? Do you have the time? I have said yes because I feared saying no and found myself in hot water. I didn’t have time to get it all done. That didn’t look good to the managers who had asked for it. Saying yes and not doing it was worse than if I had said no.
What No Means
Too often we think no means something bad. It is seen as something that shouldn’t be said, especially in the workplace. We have to always be seen as willing to do whatever we have to. That is not always what no means.
No can mean that the timing is bad. You aren’t always saying you won’t do it; you could be saying that you will not be able to give it the attention it needs at that moment. That is not a bad thing to say. It actually should look good. You are acknowledging the importance of the request but also that the timing is bad.
No can mean that you are looking out for the best possible scenario and might have other suggestions. You aren’t refusing, you are just not accepting the terms as they were given to you. Let’s look at an example:
I am working on a report that is due today before I go home. As it is, I will be working late to get it done. When my boss comes up with another report that needs to be done, do I really say yes, knowing that I will not be able to get it done today? That would me look really bad. How would it all be different if I let the manager know the reality of it in the right way?
How To Say No
When you say no the right way, you can actually score major points. In the example above, a great response would be: “Okay, you need this today? I’m asking because I’m doing this sales report for the other manager who needs it before midnight. Can I get it to you tomorrow morning?” Most times, they will agree to getting it a little later when they hear what you have on your plate. If it is their own report you are working on, they might ask that you push it aside to get the new one done first.
Say no in a positive light. Show that you are willing to do it, but explain how the circumstances are stacked against you. That gives the manager a positive look of you as you manage your time wisely and can communicate with them about your workload.
The End Results
Score points with management when you say no the right way. If you are always a yes person who continually fails to follow through, you won’t have a job much longer. Good managers like to see employees who are hard working and open about situations. Don’t lie just to look good in the moment. Be honest.