Art of Saying No at Work

I recall a quote by Richard Branson “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later’’ ! In reality though, I wonder if this is practical without causing an impact on the quality of job done. The art of saying ‘No’ at work is imperative to ensure balance in life and avoid burn out.

Many times, at work, we are set with situations that’s a certain ‘’No’’, but feel tongue tied to utter the same. Whether it’s the laborious assignment, appeal to work on a weekend, request for the business trip – there are numerous instances which don’t suit our convenience. Yet, we end up going overboard and taking those tasks under the impression that saying no might make us look bad or earn the tag of being complacent or uninitiated.

There is certainly a demarcation between reality and meeting everyone’s expectations. Going the extra mile when not required will lead to a vicious cycle of unwarranted anticipations, thereby impeding your productivity and resulting in exhaustion. How to say NO in the corporate world without offending? Few tips:

  1. Substantiate your ‘’No’’ with a reason: Plain refusal to do a job might seem a bit curt. So be honest and explain the reasons – lack of time/ held up with other impending projects, etc., give a brief summary of the same. Rather than saying yes and struggling emotionally and compromising on the quality of work, its best for all concerned to decline the task at the first opportunity.

2. Understand People’s behaviour: There are a few who take your generosity for granted. Accepting a task and putting in rigorous efforts will be seen as an opportunity to dump similar requests on you. Be wary of such individuals and their practices, have determination to nip them in the bud.

  1. Try to find an alternative: Though it’s not your job to find an alternate to handle the assignment, if within your purview, suggest some one of equal calibre to complete the task. Doing so, you might highlight another person’s competence and create more talent.

4. Don’t take the guilt trip: Lastly, understand that you are doing your best and there is no need for a guilt-trip. Though it’s a bit difficult in the beginning, you’ll gradually know to set the limits. Avoid comparisons with others who handle anything that comes their way, each of us have our own different paths.

To conclude, in any situation – whether official or otherwise, have the determination to reject an opportunity that doesn’t grow you as a person or adds no value. In the end, all of us are only human and biting more than what we can chew is detrimental. Prioritising and setting healthy boundaries is a great way to ensure a vigorous spirit and a productive life. An apt quote by Steve Jobs “It’s only by saying “NO” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important’’.

You may also want to read other articles written by the  author: ‘Stop limiting yourself‘, ‘Doing what you love – hobbies and passion to opportunity‘, ‘ Maximise your productivity to unleash your potential‘, ‘Be your own boss‘, ‘Broaden your intellectual horizon‘, ‘Career metamorphosis – Expert to beginner’, ‘Importance of networking for success in your career’, ‘Busy Day vs Productive Day‘, ‘Money matters for womens financial independence‘, ‘A new dawn in the horizon – career restart’ , ‘Being overlooked for promotion‘ , ‘Addressing the gender paygap disparity ‘  .

About the author:

Nithya Jagadish – I am a commerce graduate with an overall experience of 10 years in the Corporate Industry and handled diversified assignments at HSBC and Hewlett Packard. After gaining considerable knowledge and success during my tenure, I decided to focus my attention on other areas of interest. Now, a doting mother of a one year old, I spend my day reading, apprising on my topics of interest and baby-sitting.

An avid reader and poetry enthusiast, my love for writing started while at school and my dreams have borne fruits after motherhood. I strongly believe in living life to the fullest and making the most of each beautiful day.

(The author is a guest blogger at Her Second Innings. The opinions expressed are those of the author.)

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