How You Can Say 'No' Like a Pro

4 min read
This story originally appeared on Personal Branding Blog

One of the most difficult words for some people to say has just two letters. Yet, this one word can cause people to wince and feel guilty for saying it. There is no need to feel guilty for saying it if you have a reason. And, there is always a reason for deciding not to do something. The reason can be something you don’t need to share, but depending upon your personality you may feel compelled to share.

The truth is you don’t always need to back up your “no’s” with a reason, but usually the person asking wants to know why. Below are a few tips for saying no. For saying no with tact, sensitivity, and conviction. And, for sticking to it. There is NO need to feel guilty for saying no.

On the flipside of this there are some people that seem to revel in saying no. I’m sure they understand the meaning of the word, but I think they get a lot of satisfaction from just using the word.

The goal is not to avoid something that may be part of your job description. However, you also should not be the one everyone asks to do something just because they know you’ll agree.

Say No like a pro

First. Say It Like You Mean It.

  • State the facts - Just accepting something is not acceptable. If you have other commitments, and everyone does, you should feel comfortable enough in your own skin to state the reasons why you cannot and will not do something.
  • Repeat - Repeat your NO as many times as necessary.
  • Resist - Resist the urge to imply there may be a way for you to do what is being asked. Don’t say... “Maybe next time’’ unless you really mean it. If there is going to be no next time... let them know.

One thing learning how to say no does is it helps you to Stand Out in your Career. Your ability to confidently take on projects you know you can accept and complete is a reflection on you and your authenticity. Learning to say no is both a soft and a hard skill that is good to learn.

Just say No

Nancy Reagan said these three famous words in the 1980’s as part of her War on Drugscampaign. I’m recommending you learn how to say no too. It may be hard initially. It will be more of a challenge for some than others. For people that are “Pleasers” it may be exceptionally hard, but this is a skill that needs to be learned, practiced and repeated. When done right - meaning with tact and sensitivity to the person making the request the ability to say no is a leadership skill that will help you build your personal and professional brand.

LinkedIn Tip: I wouldn’t put... “Ability to say no” on your LinkedIn profile, but I do recommend putting something in your profile that indicates you know how to make decisions.

So, here’s a little help to get you going. When you are asked to do something... I believe the response you are searching for is NO. This sounds harsh and perhaps a little passive-aggressive, but the intent is not just to say no because you can. However, if you truly cannot take on another task, another project, or another responsibility... Just Say No.

Practice makes perfect

Say it with me... no. No. NO.

With practice you will become adept at evaluating requests and determining if you can take on a new task. You will also become adept at saying no with tact and sensitivity to the person making the request. Over time your ability to make good decisions will become a reflection upon you and your career.

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