Saying ‘No’ at Work: Why, When and How to Do It Nicely 42

Saying 'No' at Work: Why, When and How to Do It Nicely infographic

This is a guest post by Andrew Dennis.

If you ask a successful legacy employee for career advice, it’s likely they will come out with some variation of the old adage: “Know when to say no.”

It’s spectacular advice, but easier said than done.

Most people want to say yes to projects at work. To prove that we can do any job that is asked of us, show we are as capable and responsible as others, Or make sure we make a good impression on our superiors and peers.

However, it’s important to learn to say no periodically, when necessary. So as not to jeopardize the other work you may be doing. 

Saying yes too often is a common issue.

According to the study represented in the infographic below, over 50% of workers say they feel overwhelmed. Projects pile up that all seem doable by themselves but collectively they build into a mountain of work that is impossible to scale.

This leads to shoddy or mid-level work on projects that should have been carefully edited. As well as a lack of innovation on work that could have used some creative pondering.

It is frustrating to realize that you aren’t putting forward your best and most impressive output because you’ve run out of time.

How Do You Know When to Say No?

It helps to have a considered strategy when entering into any work situation.

The infographic below outlines work-related reasons for saying no. Such as, not to pick up a task when you’re not the most qualified person for the job. Or if you cannot realistically make the deadline. But there are personal reasons to think about as well.

When asked to take on a project try to make sure to assess your work level and then see if what you are being asked to do adheres to at least one of these following criteria:

  • Will it advance my resume/reputation/job performance?
  • It is something I am passionate about?
  • It is something I have been meaning to learn?

If you find yourself saying yes to projects that fit none of these — “just because” or “just to help out”, it is time to try to find a way to say no.

Think of a project that does not follow these criteria as active time-wasters, something that is taking energy away from projects or life experiences that you could otherwise engage in if you weren’t so busy taking with something unrewarding.  

As with most communications, honesty is the best policy.

However, as the infographic below demonstrates, there are strategies to frame declining an offer of work that make it more palatable.

Some simple ways to consider saying no properly:

  • Say no face to face – if possible perform sensitive communications in person or at least over the phone (rather than trusting an email or text message to do your dirty work).
  • Don’t make excuses – just be clear about your situation.
  • Don’t equivocate – give a specific and solid NO to avoid any confusion and do so deliberately.
  • Offer an alternative – have an idea in place for how the work can get done without your input or with you in a lesser role.
  • Be open for future work – while perhaps this time it didn’t work out, reiterate that you are looking forward to the possibility of working together at a better time.

Check the infographic from GetVoIP below for more strategies for delivering a no response that won’t ruffle feathers at work.

how to say not at work respectfully

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Hunt Down Your Goals and Become Fearless Like a Lion 12

Hunt Down Your Goals and Become Fearless Like a Lion

To be fearless is to dare yourself to think new thoughts, take risks, fail and find the courage to start again.

In order to change, you must face the uncomfortable, because fear is not supposed to run you. Instead, it is a call to action.

We all have fear and we must never let it paralyze our dreams. If 2017 was an unsuccessful year, hopefully, this article will inspire you to take action.

I know how it feels when you are tired of listening to those inner voices of doubt. Slowly, the anger builds up inside. Despite those feelings, you can channel fear and anger in the right way and start to hunt for your dreams. Throughout my life, I felt a renewed hunger and drive to succeed when I simply let go of denial, accepted full responsibility and took affirmative action.

“Everybody wants to eat but a few are willing to hunt”

In today’s cold reality humans do not like to see anyone other than themselves succeed. Most will never take the next step to improve their life or the lives of their future generations to come. We are pushing towards survival of the fittest.

Tell me, when a lion hunts does it care what is in its way? No. The lion is in pursuit because it is relentless.

You must become the king of the jungle. All the things that make up our lives are in intricate balance and you must fight to protect your dreams.

1. Be fearless like a lion.

A lion has no fear of any challenge, so how do I become fearless?

My simple answer to overcoming fear is that I wake up with the burning desire in my heart. The burning desire is created by repeating positive affirmations like I CAN and I WILL.

Hidden somewhere deep down within you, there is that courage to dare yourself.

Ask yourself who is really stopping you? Go out there and let loose and you will learn what great lengths you are capable of going to.

Your first job before you start hunting is to find the fighter within you.

2. Know your limits and then defy them.

You’ve reached a certain limit but just can’t seem to go that extra mile. Once you become fearless, you become limitless.

A mind that is fearless has the urge to take more action and that is where you become defiant. Try your best to understand what you are doing wrong as sometimes it is easy to give up hope. So focus your attention on studying the obstacle in detail.

As you achieve one goal, you have the mental capacity, maturity and experience to face a new challenge. Therefore, your hunger and appetite for more success increase. Keep pushing no matter what and you will eventually break through.

I know for sure it is difficult at first, but now you’ve successfully defied the odds.

3. Think of a plan, visualize it and execute it.

A lion stalks its prey from a distance and seldom charges as it grows closer and closer displaying deadly predatory behaviour.

Never rush to execute a plan as it takes careful selection. Be clear what you want just as the lion calculates timing. 

Visualization is a vital tool to programme your subconscious mind in order to create that bridge of what is non-existent into reality, which is capturing your goal.

4. Be willing to accept failure.

Failures are what propel anyone forward their current success. We can certainly learn from our failures, but our intentions should be to succeed in accomplishing our goals! Failure is then a learning process, not a reason to accept defeat. You are the king, show no remorse!!!

Motivation from Will Smith is perhaps one of my favorites. Here’s one speech:

5. Have a winning attitude every day.

To keep the cycle of motivation in constant momentum you must work hard too.

The winning attitude is created by approaching your life with discipline and putting in the hours of practice.

I like to perform a reflective practice and personal development, which enables me to identify areas where I am falling down and thus need to pay more attention to.

6. Don’t allow criticism to defeat you.

We are afraid what others think of us, what we have or what we are going to do. It is you that must make that self-promise to finish what you started.

Every once in a while, a lion must remind everyone what he is capable of.

You are the king of the jungle. Own it!


This article was written by Usman Mahmood. Besides working in the field of science helping patients through genetic testing, his purpose is to empower and inspire people in life with motivational videos, messages, articles, and stories from around the world. He loves to engage creative and ambitious minds on his Facebook page.