Ever said yes when you really want to say no? Many of us, including me fall victim to this. The real question here though is, how do you say “no” without offending the other party or in worst cases losing your job?
Here are 8 tips I know of from my personal experience and that of friends:
- Know you can’t please everyone. Tell yourself “It is impossible to please everyone”. Saying “yes”, all the time can be draining and you need to draw the line on when and how to say “no”. It may feel like you are disappointing others by saying no but if you constantly say yes, people will take advantage of you.
- Reflect and prepare yourself to say “No”. The best strategy here is to have measures in place ready to say “no”. You can have a pre-prepared decision making structure that should help you have a valid reason for saying no. You also need to properly take time and think about the request. Do you have time? Is it advantageous to you? What are the risks of saying yes or no? Be firm without coming across as harsh.
- Know what you are saying “Yes” to. By saying “no”, you are saying “yes” to other opportunities. So before you say “no”, know what you are saying yes to. When you think of all the things that you could do just by saying “no”, you may feel less guilty for saying “no”.
- Avoid details. In saying “no”, it is best to keep your reason short and simple. If you go into details, you run the risk of being talked out of your “no” into an insincere “yes”. Important tasks may suffer due to this.
- Know the things people use to get you to say “yes”. Because you have said yes so many times, the other party knows exactly what to say and do to turn your “no” into “yes”. Recognise this manipulative tactic, keep your cool and stand firm in your decision.
- Just Say “No”. Not “maybe” or “possibly”, just plain “no”. There is power in being direct, there is no room for misinterpretation. In most cases the indirects of “no” are always translated into “yes” by the other party. Once again, be firm and just say “No”.
- Offer an alternative. Even though you can’t be of help you could offer suggestions. You could either recommend another person or suggest a way to have the task done. This would let the other party know that you are not just saying “no” but have put some thought into it.
- Beware of your apology. It’s good to say “I’m sorry” but be sure not to go overboard else, you then come across as not firm in your “no” and the other party can use the apology to get a “yes” out of you.
I’ll leave you with two tips:
- Say “no” with a gentle smile
- Follow up after saying “no” so the other party knows you were not just thoughtlessly saying “no”