How to say No when you need to!

It’s probably safe to say that, at some point or another, you have said “Yes” to a colleague or client when actually you’ve needed to say “No”! We often see saying no as being rude or unhelpful, but this isn’t the case – it’s about taking control of your life and your free time and making sure you are managing your time effectively. Most people would prefer an honest answer of ‘no’, rather than overburdening someone who’ll only do a less than acceptable job.

If you find saying no awkward and uncomfortable here are a few simple suggestions on how to say No a little more easily:

Saying No by Being direct & to the point:

The most polite way to say no involves being brief, direct and honest. Don’t leave it open to debate. Tell them why you’re unable to help but keep it simple. For example, say that you’re very busy at the moment and you wouldn’t be able to give their request the attention it deserves.

Use ‘Yes, but’ statements to say no:

These are particularly useful for conversations which show no sign of ending or if you are a victim of interruption! Start with a positive declaration of your interest and support then finish with a compelling reason why you must return to what you were doing. The following statement is an example – Yes I do want your input on that, but right now a customer is waiting for me to call them with a quote.”

Refer to someone else:

Another effective technique is to refer them to someone else who can help. Tell them, “I’m not the best person for this right now, but how about so-and-so?” This is far better than just saying no.

Be Assertive:

No Matter what you say, it should always be followed by decisive action. Don’t wait for the other person to leave or stop talking; take the action required to end the conversation or interruption and get yourself back on track, shake his or her hand and walk away, say goodbye and hang up the telephone, or turn towards your computer and start pounding away on the keyboard.

Till next Time,

The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner.


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Mike Gardner - The Time Doctor

Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor helps the overworked and overwhelmed learn to say 'No' nicely, and improve their management of time, emails and meetings. He is also an avid fan of Aston Villa, a Dad of Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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3 thoughts on “How to say No when you need to!

  1. Good tips. I need to make mental note of the direct and to the point tip. This would help me in many situations. I seem to always end up leaving it open to debate, and most the time I end up agreeing to what ever I said no to, in the first place.

  2. Oh my goodness! I’m such a, “Yes,” girl!!! I’m working on the no, though. Because I’m finding that I spend too much time doing stuff for other people that doesn’t really benefit anyone!

  3. I agree. If more of us said “no” at times when we really did not want to say “yes” we would be happier, less stressed and have developed more assertiveness in the process. Good post.

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