Tip #18 Saying No – Politely

from Marian Morgan’s “82 Tips for Thriving in the Workplace.”
(A selection from Time Management)

SAY NO— POLITELY
Overwhelmed? Have way too much to do? Learn to say no—politely. Or if your schedule permits, offer alternatives. “I’d like to help you and this is what I am currently working on for this week. I’ll be in a better place to help you next week—will that work?”, for example. Gain respect from colleagues and friends by appropriately communicating your limits.

An example:
A client of mine in the manufacturing business reported an extremely beneficial outcome after testing new behavior on one of her vendors who was pushing for last minute manufacturing orders – again – requiring my client to twist herself into the pretzel as she usually did regardless of her established and well-communicated procedures.

This time, my client, sitting on a beach in Montauk, Long Island, said one little word that changed everything. “No.” No, she said, it could not be done. She said it nicely but directly and gave the reasons why. This new behavior, something we were working on together, was scary for my client because she believed she would lose the business. But she decided losing the business was better than losing her mind!

The outcome?

Her customer waited and the order was fulfilled. What happened after that? This vendor later placed a huge order with my client and has since become one of her best customers, not only in size of business, but in their working relationship. Her customer learned to respect her procedures because of one little word – “no” – said politely.