Sue Cohen - Developing the BEST

Contact details: sue@suecohen.co.uk, 07971 400653, 020 8432 2725


A to Z of people skills – No

July 31st, 2012

Saying No is a key part of behaving assertively and is often the most difficult thing for people to do at work – particularly the inexperienced, the junior staff and those who work for especially “demanding” bosses. So, here’s a few thoughts and tips …

  1. everyone has the right to be heard …. and the responsibility to listen to others; saying No requires you to make sure you heard clearly by the other person and you may also have to find out more about what they need and when, in order to find a solution
  2. say Yes to what you can do – people often ask for things at short notice, not just because they aren’t planning very well, but because it suits them; they don’t actually need the work done until later, so “I can do this for you by the end of the week” rather than “I can’t do that now” could still be a useful answer or “I can come in early tomorrow” when asked to stay late today (again!)
  3. be helpful when you can and, occasionally, remind the other person – gently
  4. know what the limits are – staying one hour late three times a week might be easiest for one person and three hours on one night better for someone else ; some colleagues will need reminding that, just because 3 hours on a Wednesday suits them, it doesn’t suit you
  5. be realistic with yourself and find out about others – what do you want and need to do at work and outside of work and make plans to balance them; the tickets you’ve bought are just as important as your colleague’s football training or someone else’s family time.

There is a difference between hard-working and demanding bosses and those who push staff too hard. Maybe the other person doesn’t really know how unreasonable they are being – how can they be expected to change if no-one discusses it with them? Talk to colleagues and your line manager (if they aren’t the problem) or another manager and get a clear sense of perspective. Take responsibility for developing your skills to be the BEST you can be.

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