I was recently the CMP Conclave presenting session work-life balance. During the Q&A, one of the attendees mentioned, that she would greatly benefit from a session on saying no. I figured a blog post would be a good first step. How many times are we asked to do things and we feel inclined to say yes? Most of the time when people ask us to do things it can be seen as a compliment. Many times, they wouldn’t ask unless they trust you and your work. However, although it might feel good to be asked to do something, it doesn’t mean that saying yes is the answer you give. Sometimes, we should be saying no.

Why is it so easy to say yes

There are so many reasons why we tend to say yes to things that we should have said no to. Most of these reasons are tied into our professions. We want the promotion, or want to be looked up to, and we feel that saying no would prevent these things from happening. Other reasons are tied into how we would like to be perceived as a person. We really want to be helpful, or want to be seen as helpful and possibly want to touch others’ lives by the help that we give. Sometimes we really want to do want that person wants us to do, but we just aren’t able.

When you should say no

My dad always used to tell me, there is a time and a place for everything. This is very true when it relates to saying no. There is a time and a place for everything that you can imagine to do with your life. Just because opportunities all arise at once, doesn’t always mean that you have to take those opportunities.

There are times in one’s life when we have to say yes, and then there are times that we have to say no. Saying no should occur when you evaluate your priorities and what you are being asked to do doesn’t fall within your current priorities. If you find yourself saying yes despite the priorities that you have in place, you are headed towards a path of potential busyness, frustration, and chaos.

Even though you are very familiar with your priorities, you might find yourself saying no to something that you should be saying yes. You might need to take a look at some things that are on your plate, that you might need to shift off of your plate in order for you to accommodate a task if it is linked to a priority and you need to do it. Trying to take on too much outside of your priorities can be damaging to your work-life balance.

How to say no

In saying no you should always thank the person that is approaching you with the ask. People truly do not have to ask you for anything, and as I mentioned before, them asking you is a form of a compliment and trust. So, thank them.

Let the person know that you are overcommitted and that you are unable to do the task. Give them a reason that matters. Help them to either understand your priorities or your lack of bandwidth to do the ask.

Offer a suggestion or an alternative individual or way of doing the item they are asking you to do. This is helpful for the person making the ask. If they trust you to ask you for help, they also would take any recommendation that you give to heart. Remember, this can be a key area in which you can mentor someone else, or allow others to shine.

Follow-up can help

Checking in on the person that asked you can be helpful to your career and to you as an individual. Even if you were not able to help, showing that you care and following up with that person can really show how personable you are and might even encourage that person to ask you again when the time is right.

It can pretty scary to say no, believe me, I get it. However, knowing how to say no the right way can be the difference between you being over-committed or more balanced overall. Do you have a creative way to say no? I would love to hear how you do it, so let’s start the conversation!