If you follow sites like Medium, Substack, it probably means you’re trying to be better and looking for answers and inspiration.
If you’re looking to be better, you’re probably going to take on new challenges and live outside of your comfort zone. Nothing is too hard and everything is a worthwhile challenge!
What’s not to like?
Combine that amazing attitude to life with the fact that many of us, probably you, are people pleasers. We like to help and be useful. We’re competent at what we do and we have a mindset that knows there’s a solution to every problem.
So when we are asked to help or we see a problem, we are keen to jump in.
🥊 And that’s when the fight started! 🥊
The internal fight of being overwhelmed, possibly under appreciated and perhaps (maybe?) a little stressed that some of your own work is not to the quality you’d like it to be.
When we hit this stage we look for ways to claw back some sanity. One of those ways is to start saying “no” to random requests. Another way is to question whether something being delegated to you is, in fact, your responsibility at all?
Here’s our challenge. (we like challenges, remember?) We are going to say “no!”
Say No — Level 1 — Explain why
Level 1 is the apprenticeship of saying no. It’s where we learn the craft of saying no. It’s where we need to say no and offer an explanation. Because we want to please people, we need them to like us after we have declined their request. So we offer a long explanation that will appease their displeasure. But if it helps you say no and hold that line, great. Be ready with your response.
Say No — Level 2 — Offer Options
Level 2 is less explanation and more offering options to the requestor. Options include referring the request to someone more appropriate, deferring to a later time, maybe even asking if it is really necessary. This third option is quite reasonable as many requests can simply be laziness on the part of the requestor.
Say No — Level 3 — Thanks but …
Level 3 is ninja level. They just don’t see it coming. You are not rude or unprofessional. You simply and politely say, “Thank you, but no, I am unable to do that.” That’s it. That’ll stop people in their tracks.
No explanation, no apology.
The Benefits of Saying No
The benefits are obvious.
- The quality of your work increases because you have more time to dedicate to your work.
- You become more valuable to the team as they will stop dropping minutiae on you. They know you value your time and they will begin to value it as well.
- Your confidence will grow as you see the quality of work increase, the greater bond between you and your colleagues, friends and relationships. (Yes, this is a side benefit).
- A shadow benefit will be those who often ask for help will realise they need to improve their skills and the whole group/team will benefit.
What or Who Decides When to Say No?
How do you know when to say no? You don’t want to be known as someone who never helps. And this isn’t an either/or scenario.
First things first:
- You! You need to be okay. You need to look after yourself to prevent stress and overwhelm. It is you who decides when to say no.
- Workload. What level of work do you need to get through in order to deliver the quality you want to be known for.
- Priorities. What are you biggest priotrities and when do they need to be done? If there is a deadline and a request might interfere with that deadline, it’s a no.
In the end, if you cannot say no your stress levels will go up and the overwhelm will creep in. People will genuinley feel for you but at that point they cannot help. Only you can help you.
Yes, they might alleviate your workload for a time, but is that what you really want? As a highly competent, high achiever, both you and I know that isn’t what you want!
I am! I’ve just had three days off work and coming back to a crap ton of catch up work. I also have meetings and expectations.
I’ll be time blocking my day and getting “my head down and bum up” into the work. I’ll be saying “No” today.
So might you!
OK, there is a caveat!
Your boss can overrule you. They are in charge and can request you do things you’d rather not. You can still politely push back. But if they insist, best go with the flow.
But, as you have pushed back, you may find they look for someone else in future. Few people enjoy conflict, including your boss!
Have a perfect day!