3 Simple Ways to Say NO – Tips for Professionals

Just Say NO

Saying “No” even when you really want to is not easy for most people, especially HR professionals, as their job revolves around helping people and resolving organizational conflicts. However, the fact is that an HR job is much more than helping and ironing out conflicts, therefore, whether they like it or not HR professionals often find themselves in sticky spots when what they really want to do is to say, “No, I am busy at the moment,” but end up saying, “So, tell me what’s wrong?” While this attitude does save them a moment or two of discomfort but ends up affecting their efficiency in the long run.

If you can identify with this situation, here’s a list of some time tested techniques that in all likelihood will help you put your foot down:

Be polite but firm. Saying “No”, does not necessarily involve being rude. You can turn someone’s request down for help politely as well. For instance, if you are working on an important investigation report and an employee pops into your office requesting you to give him some time because she has some issues  with her boss, you may tell her politely that you are busy with something at the moment, but would get back to her as soon as you are done. Of course this means that you must keep your word and seek out the said employee out after you have finished your report.

Make yourself unavailable for a certain period everyday. This is a subtle form of saying, “No”.  All that you have to do is to pick a time period in the day when you have to attend relatively lesser calls or when fewer people tend to seek you out, once you have done that, close your door for that period of time and let your phone go on voice mail. You can use this ‘time block strategy’ to attend to matters that require your complete attention. Your closed door and voicemail will send of the subtle signal that you are not to be disturbed, as you are busy with something important.

If you have limited time on your hands it is better to let people know that there is only so much time that you can give them, before they start talking. The one problem that most HR professionals face is that employees who seek them out often start venting and take ages to get down to the real issue. Letting people know before hand that you are on a tight schedule is a polite but firm way of encouraging them get straight to the point, without having to say “No I don’t have time for a long conversation right now”.

Prioritize, prioritize and prioritize. If you have list of things to do and you know what tasks are the most urgent and which ones can wait, saying, “No” will become easier. For instance, if you have a report to prepare for an important afternoon meeting and you get phone call from the marketing department head early in the morning saying he needs your help urgently, you can ask him to wait because you know that completing the report is more important, unless of course the marketing manager’s issue is of earth shattering importance!

Everything gets easier with practice; the same rule applies to saying, “No” as well.  The more you start putting your foot down when you feel it is necessary, the easier saying, “No” will eventually become.


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