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July 27, 2012

Say No Without Turning Off People

“No” is a simple word, but it may be harder to say than any other word in your vocabulary. For many people, it is more important to be agreeable than to do what they really want. If you say “yes” and you really want to say “no,” you often end up resenting the situation and the person because your own high priorities are shunted aside for theirs. This can cost you productivity, and more importantly, friendships and business associations.

  • When someone makes a request, ask for time to think about it, so you understand what is being asked of you.
  • Ask questions to make sure you understand the scope of what is being asked.
  • Decide what is best the action to take and take it.

An assertive “no” statement is simple and direct. If you feel an explanation is appropriate, it, too, should be simple and direct. No, I won’t be able to attend that meeting. I already have a commitment I can’t change. Use a firm voice and look at the person when you decline. You may want to shake your head slightly to emphasize what you are saying. Show empathy for the person. I know it can be difficult to find a replacement at such short notice, but I’m not available this afternoon.

Be honest, upfront and stay true to your priorities!  Sometimes, you just have to say “No”.

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