While it’s in your best interest to be enthusiastic and passionate about your role at work, by agreeing to everything, you can end up over-committing yourself.
Forbes reports that you should say no when you’re given a task that does not fall under your job description and will stop you from taking care of your responsibilities. Eileen Carey, CEO of Glassbreakers, says it’s important to say no at work because it earns respect. “If you aren’t getting paid to do something and the task will take away time from accomplishing what you are paid to do, saying no demonstrates your commitment to your role and the value of your time,” she says.
The article adds that when a task conflicts with your values or you can’t deliver results, you should decline the request. Amanda Greenberg, CEO, and co-founder of Baloonr, explains that it’s easier to gravitate towards saying yes because sometimes the opportunity may lead to new and better things. “You should say no when it is going to set a precedent that you aren’t comfortable with or that might be harmful moving forward. It is also important to say no when you know that you won’t be able to deliver,” she says.
Accepting every task that comes your way means you’re likely to not deliver on everything – which is a no-no. Annette Y Harris, a personal brand coach and image consultant cited in Essence, said: “By being afraid to say no, you risk not being able to competently and completely accomplish the goal to your boss’s expectations. You could also sign up for the projects that don’t showcase your talents,” she said.
Harris added that respect is earned by saying no because your plate is too full or you don’t have the right skills to deliver the desired result, rather than tackling a task to which you’re unsuited.
Below are some suggestions on how you can firmly and politely decline a task:
- Offer an alternative – when declining the task, you can ask how else you can contribute to the task or if you can tackle it at a later stage.
- Author of Failure to Communicate, Holly Weeks (cited in Havard Business Report) says the manner in which you say no is important. Body language also plays a role in how the person on the other side interprets your refusal. “No sighing, no grimacing, no it’s-not-my-turn-why-don’t-you-ask-Sibulele? Be kind, but be firm. Watch your tone and your body language,” says Weeks. It’s also vital that you don’t leave your employer or colleague with false hope that your no could eventually turn into yes, she adds. “There is tremendous temptation to soften the no to get a better response,” she says. “But when your no is reluctant, flexible, and malleable, it gives the impression of ‘maybe I’ll change my mind,’ and it encourages your counterpart to keep pushing.”
- Your ‘no’ must have dignity. Own it. And be accountable for whatever the other party’s response.
- When you’ve assessed the request and decided that you have no desire tor time to help, keep your explanation short and simple. “Too often people start with lightweight reasons and hold back the real reason they’re saying no because they think it’s too heavy,” says Weeks. It’s not a part of your job, or you’re already swamped, keep your response concise and to the point. There’s no need to go on about your expel you run the risk of being challenged about the importance of other tasks.
- Saying no doesn’t come easy for most people, to get better at it – practice. You can practise by yourself, while looking in the mirror or with a trusted colleague – the important thing is to listen to yourself. Make sure the way in which you communicate the ‘no’ still maintains the respect between you and your boss.