Learning to Say 'No' at Work
When you want to impress your boss and your colleagues and it can be easy to keep taking on more work to make them happy. However, there will come point when you are unable to cope with everything that is being asked of you. You need to learn to say ‘no’ and realise that turning work down doesn’t make you any worse at your job, just more in control of it.
Change Your ExpectationsIf you are the person that everyone expects to say ‘yes’ when they ask you to do something, then they will continue to ask you first. This just perpetuates the situation and you will soon find yourself snowed under. You need to change this expectation by changing the way you work and react to others. If they see that you are serious about beginning to say ‘no’ then they will give you more respect and find an alternative way to get it done.
Talk To ThemIf you just suddenly stop taking on any more work or saying ‘no’ all the time then your boss and colleagues are going to become confused and probably a bit resentful. It would be better to talk to them about your concerns and be clear about why you need to stop taking on so much work. Approach your line manager with clear examples of why it is becoming too much and practical steps about how it could be changed. Then, if possible, get them to talk to your colleagues, but if not them take a deep breath and talk to them yourself.
Have Good Reasons For Saying NoYou need to have good reasons for saying ‘no’ to work, not just that you don’t feel like doing it. By making a clear statement about your situation and giving examples of why it is too much, you are making a good start. However, if people back off there may still be occasions when they want you to dos something. Be reasonable and if you genuinely do have time, then do it.
Be FirmOnce you have decided that you are going to take a stand, you need to stick to your decision. If you can accommodate the requests and still stay on top of your workload then do so, but be firm when it won’t be possible. If you say that you are stopping and then don’t, people will think you are pushover and be more likely to keep piling work on you. It can be difficult to stand up to colleagues or manager but you won’t be doing yourself any favours by being weak in this situation.
Learning to say ‘no’ can be difficult for some people, especially when they have been used to taking on everything they are given. You soon gain a reputation for being the person that says ‘yes’ and you need to change this expectation to keep on top of your workload. Talk to your manager about your problem and give clear examples of why it isn’t working. Then, stick to your guns, be firm and people will soon get used to the new you.