Four ways to say “no” with style.

By Morag Barrett on October 28, 2014

Posted by Morag Barrett | October 28, 2014Four ways to say “no” with style.Knowing you should say “no” and having the courage to do may as well be night and day. But it doesn’t have to be like that. A little advance preparation ensures you are ready to say “no” when the time is right. Think back over the last few months. How often did you find yourself thinking “Why on earth did I agree to this?”Don’t be shy, I know I’ve done it, and I would guess most of you have too. In my conversations with leaders, friends, family it seems that this is a problem that is endemic. Whether you find yourself in this situation on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, the good news is, you can take control.  It is ok to say “No!”Let’s start with a quick review of our (good) reasons for not saying “no” at the outset.  Maybe weDon’t feel we can say no as they are the boss.It would be rude not to.Owe them a favor as they helped me last week / last month / last year.Believe it will only take a few minutes (of course it never does).This is what I do. This is who I am. Helpful.and the list goes on.It’s possible to be polite, say no, and retain, if not strengthen, the relationship! There is no one rule, or formula to follow. Choosing whether to say “yes” or “no” to a request is a personal choice, one that will benefit your own well-being, after all, saying “not” to them means you are saying “yes” to yourself – a trite phrase, but it’s true!When saying no:Listen and give consideration to the request, don’t interrupt.Be polite, be clear, be concise. Keep your answer simple, don’t feel you have to offer an explanation each and every time.Be Swift. Don’t leave the other person hanging, say no as soon as you can so that they can make alternative arrangements.No Guilt! Remember that saying “no” does not make you a bad person.When and how to say no:An event you can’t (or don’t want to) attend: If you are too busy then simply say so. Don’t feel obliged to explain, if you do, keep it short and simple. (Over-explaining may not sound as sincere). Try: “I’m sorry I am not available / I have another commitment.”When you are already committed: Last minute requests, rushed deadlines all communicate a sense of urgency that sometimes result in the default “yes” so as to save the day. However, unless the last minute dash is of your making you are allowed to say “no”. If you can avoid leaving someone hanging or at risk of a major catastrophe a few hours, or days may not make a difference. Try: “I really want to ensure the project receives the care and attention needed. I can’t do it this week, how about next week?”I need an answer now!: Just because you are put on the spot does not mean you have to reply on the spot, especially to casual or unexpected requests for information or commitments.Try: “Let me check and get back to you [insert time-frame]. I want to provide you with an informed answer.”“Do you have a minute?”: This is the perennial Can I pick your brain? situation. Defer, if it’s important they will be back at a time when you can focus on their needs.Try: “I have to finish this project in the next hour. Can you come by at 2pm?”The most important tip in being able to say “no” is to contract for this at the outset. When you are starting the relationship or project, don’t be afraid to talk about how you will handle and raise concerns. Most relationships fail when we don’t articulate the rules of engagement. Take a few minutes to agree on how you will work together at the outset and it makes things so much easier when the moment arises.Have the courage to say “no” and you may just find that strengthen the relationship. Let me know how it goes!Related ArticlesTags »communicationCultivating Winning RelationshipsEmotional Intelligenceleadership development denver Share
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