Can You (Gracefully) Say “No?”
by Ilise Benun
The ability to say no is crucial to success in business. It plays a role in managing, setting up realistic expectations, establishing trust, and being a professional. But we often say “yes” to avoid conflict or to prevent another person from getting mad, despite the fact that we know from experience that a simple “yes” in a moment of weakness can snowball into turmoil or conflict down the road.
It can be tricky, however, when it’s your job to do what is asked of you and “no” doesn’t seem to be a real option.
Maybe it’s not as black and white as “yes or no.” Instead, try to engage in a conversation to problem solve how the task could get done effectively with other resources. Here are a couple phrases to try:
- “I don’t think I’m best suited for that project. I’d like to discuss another way we can do this.”
- “My workload is close to capacity and I’m afraid I wouldn’t do my best work. I’d like to look at other resources we might work with.”
It is essential to know your capabilities and be clear with others about what you can and cannot do. And it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver rather than the opposite.
What have you tried that works?