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Six Ways to Say 'NO' (14/26) A2Z 2018

Have you ever said 'yes' when you want to say 'no'! Declining another person or saying 'no' without offending the other is an art, which you learn and may excel only with practise and time.
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It is specially difficult if the person asking is a friend and you value the relationship. I would like to share an incident when I wanted to say 'No' to a request and couldn't.


One of my responsibilities at work was to coordinate the Marketing newsletter. Part of the information was collected manually from the points of sale by junior staff, Nadia, with the help of a digital recorder and then processed in MS Word. But Word then didn’t have the advanced features available now and the computer was used more like a digital typewriter, as a result, it took hours for tasks that could be done sooner.


One day I found Nadia upset and almost in tears. When I asked her, she told me her daughter was sick and her assignment was late already so she could not take the day off. Nadia was a sweet lady, who had in the past helped me with a couple of assignments. So, I offered to help her as I was light on workload, and she accepted happily. Twenty minutes later, she was on her way home. A little good deed done and all were happy.


However, this was a monthly assignment. Like always, it was taking her a long time to finish, so she asked me to help again. I saw no reason to help her this time, when I had enough of my own work. But I valued her friendship and did not want to disappoint her.


As my mind raced to find an excuse, she offered to come a 'little' later as per my convenience. I saw my chance and immediately offered to stay after work hours to help her. Later, before leaving, she came to tell me that her work was done and thanked me for being there for her.


So, we had a “happy ending” to this episode. But it is not always that easy. You may read books or google how-to, but you will still need a lot of practise before you handle declining well. And it is better to start early before any serious damage is done. Either you will have to compromise on your own work, or on the work that you take unwillingly, and this may lead to straining of relations.


Few tips to avoid saying yes when you don’t want to:

  1. Take time to consider. Especially if the situation has risen at work, would taking that extra help you in anyway, or would taking time force the person asking to look for some alternatives, if time is a constraint for that task.

  2. Offer alternative. Offer to do it after you have handled your workload or on next weekend.

  3. Never give explanations. If you have decided to decline, do not elaborate – be brief, because this might turn the conversation around into you having to agree.

  4. Be assertive. Make eye contact and don’t feel guilty about it. You are responsible and accountable for your burden first.

  5. Be polite. Always be polite, there is no need to be rude for any reason, sometimes the asking person may try to blackmail you or bully you into accepting, quickly excuse yourself politely and leave that place.

  6. Don’t take freebies. When you accept a freebie or make a request yourself, you may have to reciprocate by accepting. Consider if it is worth it.

Author's Note: Please read and share my post with others too.

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