saying no

The sound of selfishness is harsh to the ear, but in reality, when it is work-related, one has to show their true colors. There are situations in life where this negative adjective of being selfish works wonders. Let’s take a peek into the behavioral dynamics of the psychology of the reason, the “Yes-man” types. While it is obvious that it might be a trait, there are times when saying NO is particularly difficult, even to the people who matter to you the most.

1. Learning to hear NO

The perspectives can be different – being an entrepreneur, you have to get used to hearing the word “NO” when your start-up needs funding but in ordinary life, each of us has to be responsible for one’s own self, and taking on the extra load of someone else sometimes makes it difficult to commit. It takes experience to say NO. People who are socially connected are more likely to meet more people and take on the additional onus and responsibility but fail on commitment. Being altruistic in the true sense is good, but it backfires when there are overwhelming feelings of not being able to handle those uninvited commitments. Conversely, hearing NO from someone is a shock. You may have a set expectation in mind for an issue that is outside the scope of personal skills, which makes things tough but realistic.

2. Utility factor of time

The issue of time management, valuing one’s own time and one’s own ability to accomplish a task, is an important part of life’s process. From a business perspective, sharing work and getting connected is very common, but using these optimizing activities to obtain an advantage over time is the key to one’s own success. But using that same perspective, it is also the ability to pull the task off within specific time constraints that matter the most. Valuing time in one’s own life and in that of others makes it work, but prioritizing and open communication is the key to its success. Your own work will need you and your time, so make use of both, unless you think you can delegate or outsource it.

3. Saying NO and yet balancing the act

It is tough for people to say “no”, especially when business-to-business relationships matter. This is a delicate game because there are situations where you have to say NO to save your own job. But, there is a fine line between artful conversation and the attitude to saying NO to save your own back. The fine line means saying YES to your job and saying NO to other responsibilities. The softer approach of “not at this point in time” is an apt way to fend off requests from your surrounding environment. This is the diplomatic reply because while it saves you time to work on your task at hand, it is not blatantly stating that you are not interested; but rather; you can when you have time.

4. Sharing resources

When the situation is between a boss, your workload and you, and you cannot say NO, then the only option you have is to slog. The use of IT and shared systems will help, so automating work and multi-tasking concurrently are options you can exploit. As a definitive point, you can loan relevant inputs, materials, books or reports to help while your absence has been made. This is a clever way to be altruistic in the office and still show that you care, even when people are asking for time that you don’t have available. There are shared systems, like Gmail G-drive, that use cloud services across the globe that can be of immense help in continuing the exchange of information. This is one way of leveraging time-at-hand with minimal support, which you can render, instead of having to say NO. It is obvious that people will be busy; but when you offer solutions that partially address the needs of the opponent, it will prove sufficient when you don’t have time to spare.

So, saying NO can be easy, but not damaging relationships while still achieving a middle path of compromise is important. Some of the takeaways are: compartmentalizing the work schedule and load in such a way as to make it effective; using IT to leverage absence; multi-tasking and sticking to deadlines. These are all good ways to keep your word with others when you have taken on additional responsibilities. Otherwise, learning to say NO is an art you need to possess in order to achieve more out of life.


Sophia Harris is an educational and marketing consultant at She loves to write about new insights and information regarding education, learning and management tips. 

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