How to say no: The three-part framework that sets you up for a more effective ‘yes’
Ever since companies started working more cross-functionally and collaboratively, exchanging top-down management for dotted-line reporting with fuzzy accountability, work has gotten more complicated.
All day every day, most of us are fielding requests. The asks are formal and informal, large and small. They’re not just from direct bosses and teammates but also from “internal customers” all over the organisational chart. Add to this the demands of external stakeholders, of family, friends, and acquaintances, and sometimes even of complete strangers. The requests keep coming — across tables and through Zoom screens, by phone, e-mail, and instant message.
The inflow is daunting. And now more than ever, your professional success and personal wellbeing depend on how you manage it. You can’t say yes to everyone and everything and do all of it well. When you take on too many or the wrong things, you waste time, energy, and money and distract yourself from what’s really important. Still, no one wants to anger or disappoint colleagues or other contacts — or, worse, turn down key career and life opportunities.
You must therefore learn when and how to say both no and yes. A considered no protects you. The right yes allows you to serve others, make a difference, collaborate successfully, and increase your influence. You want to gain a reputation for saying no at the right times for the right reasons and make every single yes really count.