How to Say No to Your Co-workers

How to Say No to Your Co-workers

You say ‘yes’ a lot throughout your day at work, when answering emails, phone calls and speaking to clients and colleagues. So saying ‘no’ to something can feel wrong and sometimes unnatural. This is down to our psyche, saying yes means we show ourselves as being a ‘good person’, it’s less awkward than saying ‘no’ and feels more rewarding and constructive. However sometimes you just have to say ‘no’ to people.

Many employees find it difficult to say no to picking up extra pieces of work, as they don’t want to risk upsetting their colleagues, boss or clients. But the thing is, saying yes too often can have ­­negative affects too! If this sounds like you and you are constantly having to shift your schedule or work extra over time to accommodate work or pick up the slack for another colleague then you need to stop and learn to say no. You may think you are being a good person and a team player but in the long run your own work and work-life balance will suffer.

Here are KennedyPearce’s Tips for Saying No to Co-workers:

  1. Show you Have Listened

You might be in a position where you know you won’t be able to take on any extra work before a colleague has even approached you. But if you want to maintain a positive work environment it is important to respect your colleague and hear them out. The matter is obviously important to them.  So show them respect and give them the chance to explain themselves.  Furthermore you’ll have an understanding of what they are asking and will help you stand by your decision to say ‘no’.

2. Answer Efficiently

Don’t leave your co-workers hanging for an answer. This is incredibly frustrating, especially as you are saying ‘no’ you need to let them know as soon as you can, so they can work out an alternative. If you are unsure whether you can help them, tell them this too, so they are prepared and know they can’t rely on you. If you let them down late this will only cause more stress for your co worker and you will feel more guilty.

3. Explain Why

When you say no to co workers, give an explanation as to why you can’t complete a task. The benefit here is that your co worker won’t assume a reason other than the one your giving as to why you can’t complete the task. For example you can’t help out because you have your own task and deadline to meet which is more urgent at this time. Because you’ve listened (point no.1), you’ll be able to give a verified answer and reason as to why you can’t help out this time. Despite the fact you’re saying no, you’re colleague will appreciate the fact you took in what they said and have an explanation.

4. Say No in Person

Email messages can be misconstrued, so saying no in person is much better if you want to show your sincerity. When saying no, try if you can to offer something positive. For example the name of a colleague (check with them first) who might be able to help them.

In some instances of saying no you won’t have a choice, because you’ll have too much work. But also don’t be afraid to draw boundaries between your professional and personal lives, if extra work eats into your family time, say so.

What are your tips for saying No to your Co-workers, tweet us @kennedypearce


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