The Art of Saying No
Facing burnout and feeling overwhelmed? If you feel like you can’t say no, try these phrases to keep you sane the next time someone comes to you with a request.
As the world opens back up, so will more opportunities, leading to an ambitious and overwhelming workload for many organizations who have been non-stop throughout the pandemic.
“Lots of folks are headed for a crash if they don’t master the art of answering the next request for their time and attention with something other than an unqualified, ‘yes,’” writes Scott Eblin for the Eblin Group blog.
Instead of saying no, Eblin explains three ways to say anything but yes:
- Yes, but: These responses are for when the question or request is something you can or should do, but need to set boundaries around, explains Eblin.
Instead of no, say “Yes, but not now,” because you need to prioritize more important work, or “Yes, but not me,” when you know someone else is better suited to follow through.
- Learn more: Sometimes, you can’t say yes to a request without learning more first. Before deciding yes or no, you need to know how time sensitive a request is, or more context to determine if there is a better solution.
Responding with “Tell me more,” or “What else would work or help instead?” can help you get the details you need to decide how to proceed.
- No, but: If you know what is requested of you is not an appropriate ask but still want to be supportive and cordial to a colleague, if can be difficult to know how to frame your “no,” Eblin writes.
If you can do something, anything, offer up that work instead. Making an offer, or working within your bounds helps protect your time and resources while being supportive.
Ultimately, if you have to say no, you can still say it graciously, explains Eblin.
“Sometimes, there’s nothing more you can do than to offer your good will and best wishes. It’s way better to do that than to commit yourself to something that you really don’t have the bandwidth to follow through on,” he writes.