The Art of Saying No
The art of saying no is a very, very important thing to master because you really need to say no so that you can stay in your sweet spot and be doing the work that’s of most value and at the same time you need to say no in a way that doesn’t make you seem like you’re not a team player or doesn’t alienate people.
So the way to say no is to start with talking about how important the work is in the first place: tell me about what we’re doing this for, what are we hoping to get out of it, and go through a series of questions that help the person understand: is the work even worth doing in the first place? Because maybe 50% of the time it’s not actually even worth doing so start there.
Second, if you’re going to say no to something tell someone why you’re saying no and what you’re saying yes to. That’s a really great opportunity to go present at that conference, unfortunately my focus for this year is on the manufacturing sector and that conference in the food industry sounds really good, but I think it will detract from my focus and I really want to make sure that I keep focused where I’m supposed to be.
Third, give them an alternative; don’t leave someone in the lurch. It’s really important to be able to say let’s think about who would be perfect for this or who is focusing in the food industry this year. So you don’t just say no and kind of walk away and leave them hanging… Instead, first figure out if the work needs to be done, then a really good reason and rationale why it’s not the sweet spot for you and help your teammate find an alternative that way it won’t even feel like you said no, it will actually feel like you helped them do the right work with the right person.