Don’t get caught in the niceties trap

How to Say No in the Workplace

Yea-sayers are among the losers in the workplace. They are more often affected by burnouts and work themselves to the limit – after all, there are always one or two colleagues who take advantage of their kindness. If you find yourself in this trap, we’ll show you how to say “no” in a friendly way, without being perceived as an uncooperative colleague.

Anyone who is too nice in the workplace quickly finds themselves with more work than they would like. When more and more colleagues start asking for favors, it’s time to say no.

Set limits and remain diplomatic

Experienced leaders know the problem: they are often asked for their advice and help. To assist with real problems is an important part of the job, but what if the department manager next door asks you for a favor? After all, you’ve taken over handling the last-minute details with last week’s project… You don’t want to be rude, but you’re also not sure if this new request will fit into your schedule.

Here are two strategies to give yourself time to formulate your reaction:

  1. Communicate clearly at what times you are available for inquiries. If your office door is closed, you don’t want to be disturbed – stand fast to this rule and your colleagues will have to accept it.
  2. Ask for 24 hours to consider the request. Meanwhile, you can decide whether you really want to take on the task and whether you have the capacity to do so.

8 simple ways to communicate a friendly “no”

The art of politely declining without risking your reputation has been analyzed by Wharton professor, Adam Grant. He recommends these eight clever sentences for people who wish to respectfully refuse requests.

Deferring: “I’m currently swamped with my own work. However, you can check back with me later.” With this answer, you make it clear that your capacity is limited.

References: “I’m not sufficiently qualified for this task. Perhaps you can find help in this area…” You don’t need to give advice if the topic is not part of your expertise.

Introducing: “This is not my area of expertise. However, I know someone who could help.” Refer your contacts to those who are proven experts for the specific issue.

Bridging: “Both of you are pursuing the same goals.” The previous sentence has not borne fruit? Introduce people with the same interests to each other. This can lead to beneficial relationships.

Pre-select: “You should meet with my colleague, he’ll set up an appointment with you.” Refer the contact to another colleague or assistant.

Stacking: “Others have asked this question as well. Let’s discuss it together.” Instead of answering the same questions over and over again, meetings with a small number of people can pay off.

Referring to the relationship level: “If I helped you, I’d be letting others down.” Point out your obligations to others.

Personal development: “I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’ve decided this year to say no more often – you’ve been particularly stubborn, so this seems like a good chance to practice my intentions.” It’s good to use this method of refusing when all others have failed.

Less stress – successfully dismiss requests

Develop courage and reject additional requests more often. Those who can really say no, and realistically assess their own resilience, are happier and healthier at work. Naysay practice: set a goal and decide how often you want to say “no” this week. Senior professionals, who are aware of their own capacities and reject additional tasks, also strengthen their image of reliability.

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