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The art of saying “no”: 4 strategies to reject what you cannot (or do not want) to do at work


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If you always say yes to all the demands of bosses, co-workers, clients and others involved in the work, perhaps you can come to feel very important or even irreplaceable.

The problem is that it can become a recipe to end up being overwhelmed and, instead of achieving the goals you pursue, causing disappointments that will affect your professional image and the success of your career.

That’s what Bruce Tulgan, founder of the American firm of professional training for business executives Rainmaker Thinking and author of books such as “The Art of Being Indispensable at Work” puts it.

The only way to be successful is to learn to say no, making people feel respected ”, says Tulgan in dialogue with BBC Mundo.

A rather complex challenge considering that the pace of work is usually frantic and the level of competition in organizations very high.

Bruce Tulgan is the author of books such as “The art of making yourself indispensable at work.”

If you are used to always saying yes with the idea of ​​achieving professional excellence, explains the business consultant, it is highly likely that you will end up wasting time, energy and even moneyIn addition to distracting you from what is really important.

That is why it is important to learn when and how to say no, says the expert, to improve your reputation and build trustworthy working relationships.

“What you want is to have a positive effect by saying no.”

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These are the 4 strategies to say “no” at work, according to Bruce Tulgan.

1-Ask the right questions and take notes

When you are asked to do something, the first step is to ask the right questions and show the interlocutor that you are taking note of the answers.

If you do that, you show respect, not only for the other person, but also for the request raised.

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Let’s imagine that the person you have to tell is not your boss. While more questions You do about the task they want to assign you and the more interest you show, the easier it will be to say no.

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And if you ask good questions, it is an opportunity to show your talent and your knowledge on the subject.

In fact, asking good questions can make the other person really measure the magnitude of the work required and the weight it carries within the priorities of the organization.

2-Give good reasons to say no

The key is in the way you respond. And if you’re going to say no, it’s important offer alternatives.

To justify a negative answer you have to explain why. Usually the reason is because you are doing other things. In that case, it is good to be explicit and very detailed in explaining what the other obligations are.

It is not enough to say, “I’m sorry, I have other things to do.” What other responses can be more effective?

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“Not yet, I need to have a little more information.” Another alternative is to say “I’m doing x, y, z”, clearly explaining what those other tasks are about and providing all the necessary details so that your negative answer don’t seem like an excuse.

Now, if the request comes from a boss or a person who has more power than you, you can give them the opportunity to change your priorities, instead of adding a new task.

At the same time, you give him the opportunity to better understand how you are specifically allocating the use of your time so that it is clear that you are not avoiding the request or using your time unproductively.

There are people who, when they receive the request, react by saying “hey, that’s not my job.” But that phrase has several negative connotations that can generate a conflict. The other may interpret that you are saying “you are not my boss” or “you cannot make me do it”.

Another way of dealing with the situation is for you to explain that you are not so prepared as to respond quickly upon request.

Basically you are telling him that you are not an expert in the field and that to carry out the mission you will have to spend time studying how it is done.

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You can even reply something like “thanks for the opportunity. If you want me to, no problem, but first I have to learn.

3-Facilitate the success of the other person

To facilitate the success of the other person you can say something like “this is what I can do to collaborate on this matter.” Or ask, can I help you find someone else?

If the request is not urgent, you can say “I could help you, but in two weeks.” Or if you see that in reality you will not have any option to do what they ask you, you can say “look, I can’t do that, but I could help you in this other”.

That is another way to show your professionalism, your desire to help.

4-Follow up

Look for the person and ask, how did it go? Did you manage to solve it? Did you find the right person? “Please remember that when you need x, y, z, I am very good at doing that.”

The idea is to follow up on the case to continue building a good relationship and strengthen trust, even though your answer was negative.

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