Thanks, but no thanks: Finding clarity in the workplace by saying no

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Yes, ma’am. Yes, sir. Yes, boss. We say yes all the time. Now it’s time to work up the courage to say no. No to that last day-to-day task that will send you over the edge. No to the change in work hours. No to the decisions being made in a process that works just fine. No to the new promotion if it’s not quite right. No to hiring a new employee who doesn’t fit the bill. And no to the new job if it doesn’t scream yes.

We’re not suggesting you say no to anything and everything you’re asked to do in the workplace. We are, however, suggesting that you express your opinion when it comes to major decisions that will affect the workplace, the outcome of the product or service you create or provide and your personal life.

Take it personal. Saying yes to everything is good for people pleasing but it’s not always so great for end results. Oftentimes, the big yes or no questions actually affect our personal lives. A yes may keep us at work an extra hour each day or keep us so busy that we’re unable to concentrate on everything else we’ve said yes to over the years. Saying no doesn’t mean you’re not a team player. It means you’re taking the lead to call the shots because if you’re being asked a question the ball is in your court, after all.

Plan b. If you’re a good employee, the reason you’re saying no in the first place isn’t because you’re lazy. It’s because of the impact saying yes will have on your ability to perform in the workplace or on the company as a whole. If you say no because you don’t have time to take on a new project, give an alternative suggestion as to how you can still be of help. If you say no to a promotion because you see the new position as a step in the wrong direction, consider and speak out about the reasoning behind the no while providing answers as to how you could grow into a different area in the department. If you say no to hiring a particular new employee, throw out the names of other people who you feel do fit the bill. Providing reasoning behind the no and suggesting a plan b is key to legitimizing your answer.

Express yourself. You were hired for a reason. Your decision-making skills and authority in the field are part of that reason. So choose to give an honest answer when being asked a question. If there is any fear that your thoughts could be misconstrued, make time for an open, honest and in-person conversation. Emails and texts all too often go misinterpreted due to the lack of tone. Also, be sure to express gratitude for the opportunity to be heard. Thanks can go a long way.

Say it like you mean it. Going against the grain can be a challenge. Accept it. There is a fine balance between being inappropriately demanding or bossy and expressing an opinion in a manner that demands consideration. Choose your words and tone wisely. Speak calmly rather than out of spite, anger or fear. Look your boss, peer or employee in the eye. Demand to be heard. Call for a discussion. See what happens when you ask for clarity and careful consideration rather than just being a yes-man or woman.

Finding yourself in a position where your opinions and decisions aren’t being valued or considered? Take a look at our current job openings to see if there’s a fit for you here.