I ran a training event yesterday on Resolving FM Communication Problems, and one of the hotly debated topics was when, how and whether to say ‘no’.
A lot of people just don’t like the idea of having to tell people they can’t do something. Often they feel obligated when a colleague asks a favour; or feel pressurised when a client or someone senior to them needs something done.
How many of us find it easy to say no to something we really have not got the time or desire to do. How often do we find ourselves in situations where are workload is too high and in turn the work we produce is rushed and not to our capable standard. How often do we find ourselves at events that we never wanted to attend but we just did not have the heart to say no?
Human beings have a strong desire to be accepted and appreciated and feel that one of the ways to do this is to avoid hurting peoples’ feelings or letting them down. We feel that the more we do for others the more they will appreciate us. We feel that by saying no we are being selfish and self- centred. By saying yes to every thing that is asked of you, you are actually denying yourself of the right to do what you want to and be who you want to be.
You will find people may take advantage of your generosity and flexibility. You will also find that if you have said yes to too many responsibilities and committed to too many deadlines, your work will be rushed less thought through and mistakes will occur and deadlines will be missed. These consequences will generate a lack of respect and trust from others. So always saying yes to obtain acceptance and respect is not the way forward.
There is a way to generate respect and be accepted. We call this process of saying NO.
The first step to building enough confidence to say no is to identify why you feel you always have to say yes. You need to stand back from the situation and think about it logically.
Just say No
Once you have rationalised and come to a conclusion you should feel more comfortable about saying no if you need to. The next step is to say no directly to the person making the request.
When doing so you will need to remember to use assertive body language and an assertive tone. You do not want to sound or seem apologetic or nervous.
Explain your reasoning
Make sure that when you say no, you explain your reasons for your decision. This does not mean you are justifying your decision it will simply help others to understand especially if they are used to you always saying yes. This does not mean offering an excuse.
Offer a solution/suggestion
For those of you who were born to help or are not totally comfortable with just saying no you may feel more comfortable to compromise or offer an alternative.
Here are some pointers of what could make it easier to say ‘no’:
- If you’re saying something serious, notice whether you smile or not. Smiling gives a mixed message and weakens the impact of what you’re saying.
- If someone comes over to you while you are seated; and you want to appear more in charge, stand up. This also works when you’re on the phone. Standing puts you on even eye level and creates a psychological advantage.
- It’s all right to interrupt! A useful technique is to say something along the lines of, ‘I’m really sorry; I’m going to interrupt you.’ Then use whatever tool fits the situation. If you let someone have their whole say without interrupting, they could get the impression (when they get no message to the contrary) that you’re on board with their plan (to get you to do whatever…)
- Pre-empt. Meetings are a great place to get landed with work you don’t want. You can see it coming. So to avoid the inevitable, pre-empt, ‘I need to let everyone know right at the top, that I can’t fit anything else into my schedule for the next two weeks (or whatever).’
Some phrases to avoid:
- “It’s not my fault, I don’t make the rules”
- “What’s the problem”
- “To be honest with you”
- “With all due respect”
- “Nobody has complained about this before”
- “You’re the 3rd person who’s complained about that today/this week”
- “It’s the way we do things here”
Some food for thought I hope!
For more information about us, contact Liz Kentish, The FM Coach on Tel: 01778 561326 / 07717 870777 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org