Guest AuthorShital Kakkar Mehra

The Fine Art of Saying a Polite ‘NO’​

By | Shital Kakkar Mehra | Executive Presence Coach for CEOs I Business Communication Expert I Best-selling Author I Co-Founder Katalyst, NGO

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously remarked “innovation is saying no to 1,000 things”.

 As a manager, team leader or budding entrepreneur, you will receive dozens of emails, multiple phone calls, several Whatsapp messages and people approaching you for help, conversation or advice. In Indian culture we are reluctant to say no as we feel it breaks the harmony of the dialogue and it is considered rude. While socially we have been taught to never say no to elders, in today’s fast-paced workplaces we have to learn how to say it. There are multiple reasons we cannot say no confidently. We want to viewed as ‘nice’, we want to appear enthusiastic about our work by taking on more and want to look like a ‘solid’ team player. This explains why we are unable to say to requests for a “favor” from our clients, bosses, seniors and juniors. This singular habits leads to less time to complete our own tasks, enhanced levels of stress and career burn out.

·        Saying ‘no’ to your boss: If you have shown tremendous commitment, there’s a high chance that your boss will give you endless tasks to do as you have demonstrated that you are capable and dependable. You feel if you say no to your boss now, it will send a message of being lazy, incapable of handling the workload or even disinterested. So the question remains – how to say no to your boss? When your manager gives you extra work, how you say no to him/her has a huge impact on your career.

If your boss asks you to take on extra work:

1.   Ask yourself if the work is reasonable – If yes, do it. If no, in a calm voice, request to speak with your boss for a few minutes.

2.   During the meeting, sit down and explain to him/her that “Currently I am working on XY project which will finish this week. If this current task you have given me is a priority, I can work on it immediately”.

3.   Negotiate: This kind of response sends a clear message to your bosses that you understand their workload and would like to partner with them. However, given your current workload, quality and productivity standards, you are open to pushing the earlier project to a slow-burner to get this task done. If earlier and current tasks need to be done with equal urgency, you will need another resource to handle it with you. Either way, you are eager to partner with your boss and are competent enough to balance your workload. 

Republished with permission and originally published at Shital Kakkar Mehra’s LinkedIn

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