Saying "NO", yes you can!

Have you ever realised or even been told, you need to say „NO” more often? I wonder how you found practising saying “NO” after that. Surely, you have gone and tried it on as soon as you have had the feedback or you realised, haven’t you?

Did you feel awkward and clumsy saying it? What did you experience after you said “NO”? How about the level of guilt? Strange reactions from people around you?

The thing is, we are being told to start saying “NO” more often but hardly anyone tells us how to do that! So off we go and we do just that and end up not getting the results we want. Why? How come?

I’ll give you an example: A fairly new inexperienced senior executive manager in a medium sized international organisation sits in a steering group meeting where he also is the sponsor of a project. During the meeting a number of issues relating to his project were raised and escalated. Despite the fact that these issues could mean the project is in danger of being ground to a halt this senior manager keeps avoiding and saying “NO” to taking responsibility to help solve the issues. The group finds this very disappointing as they ended up picking up all of his tasks.

After the meeting I spoke to the HR Manager, who also happened to be there. It turns out that the reason the executive kept saying “NO” was that he received feedback in a recent 360 degree feedback process about his habit of taking on too much work, undermining others by always saying yes and then not delivering taking their work away from them whilst trying to help.

So he had all good intentions of putting the feedback into practise, but wasn’t quite sure how to do it without upsetting others. How would you do it? Any ideas?

These are some things that would be helpful to avoid at all costs:

  • Lower your eyes head down when you say “NO”
  • The invisible: Not responding at all whilst keeping head down
  • Making up excuses
  • Passing the buck

Now, below are some tips we collected over the years that seem to help make the transition and that you might find useful, when practising to say “NO”. Have fun and let us know how you get on with them.