The trouble with “no” is we keep saying “yes” to everything. We reply yes to phone calls, text messages, emails as they arrive. We say yes to volunteering for new projects, tasks, whatever comes up! We are hesitant, if not afraid of what would happen, by saying no to a request.
Dictionaries define “no” as a negative answer or decision, and most people act as if it is a four-letter-word! Every day that belief is reinforced from early childhood into adulthood because saying no to a parent or teacher is seen as rebellion. “No” in the workplace is perceived as not being a team player or not carrying your allotted workload.
Unfortunately, by saying yes, we can compromise our ability to honor our commitments, which reflects on our work performance and our business relationships. Continually saying yes also causes more stress, more deadlines, and higher expectations. While “no,” strategically used, will have far-reaching benefits for you and your organization. It is all in the way you use the power of “no.”
Ways of Using the Power of “No”
Don’t volunteer for additional projects if your bandwidth is already tight. Your credibility is crucial to your reputation. If you do volunteer, choose wisely. Does it help you grow additional skills you need to further your career, as well as add value to your organization? How does it support your career plan? Of course, there are times you must volunteer for additional work because it increases the overall effectiveness of your team.
Organize and prioritize your work and be aware of your time commitments. When your boss asks you to do an additional task, and it will impact your deadline, negotiate either to have it delegated to another or to reprioritize its target date. Be sure to have substantial evidence for your request, and not that you don’t like the work entailed.
If you are the “go-to” person for answers in your group; and, you are researching the solutions, instead tell them where they can find the answers. Not only does that give you more time to work on your designated tasks, but it helps them become more skilled in their role. One of my clients found he was adding an extra two hours to his day by discovering and relaying back the solutions. Each disruption causes at least a 20-minute delay in getting back to where you left off.
Say no to checking your emails as they come in. They can be so distracting and take you away from your work. Instead, check them twice a day. Let people know through an automatic response when you will be reviewing and responding to emails. The same goes for texts and telephone calls.
“No” Supports Your Boundaries
The advantage of using “no” strategically creates boundaries based on your commitments. It gives you more control over getting your work done. It also decreases the feeling of being overwhelmed to just feeling whelmed.