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Sunday, November 9, 2008

How To Say NO ?

Saying yes and then regretting it is the habit of a life time for many people and it leads to unhappiness and stress at work. In some work situations it could be damaging to your self-worth or even very dangerous to say 'yes'. Sometimes you will need to say no in order to:

- protect yourself from physical or mental harm
- stop racism, sexual harassment, anti-lesbian and gay or disabled behaviour or treatment

In any difficult or dangerous situation get proper advice (e.g. from a union rep or CAB). In general though it's useful to learn to say no where appropriate in the workplace. Here are a few steps which may help:

- practice saying no at home, in front of the mirror, with friends so you get used to the word 'no'
-try saying no politely to everything you're asked to do by friends before deciding whether you actually want to do it or not - you can always change your mind and say yes later if you want to.

- be clear about what is being asked of you
- make sure you understand what you are being asked to do - ask questions and get all the information you need to make an informed decision such as:
exactly what work the job involves
what help and support you'll get

- take the time you need to decide, if necessary delay giving an answer by saying you're busy now but will say tomorrow or need to sleep on it. Do not be bulldozed or bullied into an immediate decision if you're not sure or haven't time to think your response through.
Gut reactions
Take your gut reaction into consideration. Did your stomach churn or your heart sink when you were asked or told what to do? If so you don't want to do whatever it is and you're probably right.

Work out a short but not completely blunt way of saying no clearly and in a way that you take responsibility for. Useful examples include:
'My answer is no'
'No, I'm not able to do that'
'No that's not a priority for me
' I'm very busy right now'

In some situations it's appropriate to give a reason, such as when you're saying no to something that isn't in your job contract or if you're already overloaded and simply can't take on more work. But you don't have to explain yourself in every situation. If the decision is personal or you see no point in giving your reasons because they won't be listened to, then don't bother justifying yourself.

Some people think you should only say sorry when you really mean it and that polite or disingenous apologies should be avoided at all times. But others believe that saying sorry even when you don't really mean it is find if it helps you say no and assert yourself in your own way.

You may wish to suggest that you would able to do it another time or offer to take on a different task in the future. But be beware of just fobbing people so they come back with unwanted demands in the future or of passing the buck if you say 'why not ask so and so'.

You may need to keep repeating no and whatever else you choose to say with this unfamiliar word until you get through to the other person. Or you show the other person that you've listened to each of their various tacks for trying to persuade you by summarising back to them what they've just said and saying your 'no' at the end of each one.