Saying NO!

NoIt’s fair to say that many organisations are expecting their people to do more work, in less time and in some instances, for less pay. Whilst a certain amount of workplace stress can be a positive thing, too much stress and anxiety can have an adverse effect on peoples well-being, productivity and the all-important employee engagement levels.

People say YES to taking on more work because they want to be seen as fundamental to the team, seem keen or just want to please other people. They feel that a NO response would be unwelcome and possibly provoke an aggressive reaction. Others on the other hand say YES because they are just unthinking and unrealistic about what they are able to deliver.

However, being able to say NO can be a real asset in your career.

If your first reaction is to say NO, then it is important for you to think about why you’re wanting to say NO. Determine how much time you need to deliver the work, and how the project fits in to everything else you have been tasked to do. If you feel that NO is the right response to make, then a way of saying it must be as directly as possible without making excuses.

Of course, by saying NO, doesn’t mean that you’re being unhelpful. It’s always a good idea to offer an alternative. Ask if you could contribute in some other way, or put back the project to a time that suits you where you can confidently deliver the work to the standard expected by your employer, but more importantly by yourself.

Saying NO firmly and reasonably is quite acceptable to most people and definitely better than letting them down at a later date. It’s always a good idea to say NO in person too. Emails are often misconstrued and people’s voice tone, which can soften the declination of a project, doesn’t come through over a computer.

However, saying NO can be exceptionally difficult for many people. There are many different reasons why it can be such a hard thing to say. It can be useful to think about why it’s hard to say NO and to think about the kinds of people who are hard to refuse.

Remember, you are not a bad person for saying NO. The key to an assertive NO is to do exactly that – you have the right to say NO without guilt.

So if you’re one of those people who just can’t say NO, have a long, hard think about why. Saying NO becomes easier with practice and saves a lot of worry and lack of self-respect later. It’s worth trying!

The Survey Initiative have over 18 years experience in employee research, helping organisations understand what makes their people ‘tick’. If you would like to know more about how we can help your organisation with employee engagement levels, then give us a call on +44 (0)1255 850051 or contact us via our website.