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The smartest people use a simple model and these 6 phrases to say ‘no’ when they need to, says CEO—here’s how it works

By | Juliet Funt |

Asking for what you want at work is a crucial skill for career growth. But it’s just as important to express what you don’t want.

While “no” is a loaded word, it protects your time, energy and focus. Most people sense they need to say it more often, but tense up at the thought of delivering it. Typically, they realize they should have said no only after they failed to do so.

In our jumpy work world filled with hallucinated urgency, we often respond with what I call a “flash response” — an immediate answer to a yes or no request, and is fueled by reflex, impulse and distraction.

That’s because most of us don’t have a framework to support us in our choice. Luckily, through years of researching the smartest and most productive employees, I came up with the Hourglass method — a step-by-step guide for consciously deciding when to say no.

Saying ‘no’: How to use the Hourglass method

At the center of every real hourglass is a narrow neck that regulates the flow of sand.

But in our Hourglass, instead of funneling sand, we are funneling decisions, slowing them down momentarily and taking a strategic pause in the neck of the glass to allow proper consideration before we respond.

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