Top Tips for saying ‘No’ nicely

Do you often find yourself saying “Yes” when you mean No?  If so, you are a great asset to any team and will be someone people like to have around.  But, how does this impact you?

I’ve noticed that people who are more inclined to say yes when they might otherwise say no fall into two main camps:

1.  The need to be liked.  A big driver for people who fall into this category will be the need to be liked by others and have their approval.  This will drive then to help even in situations when it might not be appropriate.
2. Lack of Confidence in the Value they add.  In this situation, people are looking to do more to validate their contribution, even when this is only a question for themselves.
The impact of both of these is that you can end up spreading yourself too thin and not providing the quality of output you would like, or worst case you fail to deliver.  All of which has the opposite effect to that intended, and can lead to a greater lack of confidence.

So what techniques are there for helping you say No (nicely):

1. Be Clear on your Priorities.  Set regular priorities for yourself and your role, and refresh them regularly.  When asked to pick up some additional work, consider how it relates to your overall priorities, and this will assist in determining whether it is the right thing to say yes.  It also provides context for any response you make.
2.  Determine the value of the Relationship.  The relationship you have or want with the person asking is a key consideration to saying yes or no.  A question to consider is whether this a relationship you want to nurture, as this is another factor to be taken into account.
3. Could the task be carried out by someone else.  While you are being asked to take on the task, is it something that you could delegate to someone in your team as a development opportunity.  Or do you know someone else who might be able to pick up the work.

Considering all three of these techniques together can really help you say Yes to the right work, and NO to the work that would be better completed by someone else.  Why not try using all three together when you are next asked to pick up some work and see the impact.

What other techniques have you found to be helpful in the past?