How often do you end up doing things just because you find it difficult to say ‘no’? Helping others is always right, but you shouldn’t put off your own priorities to do so. Learn how to say ‘no’ and avoid everything that diverts your attention from your real work objectives. When you know how to say ‘no’ in the right way, you’re also managing one of your most important assets: time.

How can I say no?

Saying ‘no’ will stop being an unpleasant experience if you take these simple steps:

  1. Stop feeling bad. You have the right to say no. You just have to learn how to say it in a way that your interlocutor can understand and accept it.
  2. Keep your priorities in mind. It is always easier to say ‘no’ when your goals are clear to you. This makes it easier for you to communicate your reasons for declining a request without feeling guilty.
  3. Avoid over explaining yourself. Keep your explanation short and simple. You just have to say why you’re not willing to do that particular task.
  4. Offer an alternative. If saying ‘no’ makes you uncomfortable, you can provide an alternative to making you feel better. For example, if you’re asked to work on a project when you’re not available, you can always recommend other workers. That offers a plan B to the one who requested your help.
  5. Just say NO. We often waste too much time wondering how to say no, but in most situations a simple ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t’ is more than enough. Most conflicts exist only in our minds.

It’s just about being able to politely (but firmly) turn down people’s requests. By doing so, you’ll be in control of your time so that you can save it for those activities that matter to you most. Your interlocutor will understand every reason you provide, just as long as you explain yourself clearly and treat them respectfully.

Saying ‘no’ is hard at first, but once you start doing it and focusing on your real priorities, your time management will be much more efficient.

Translation by Susana Castro

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Image: Henry Burrows

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