GNcareers, from Gulf News

Saying 'no' needn’t be detrimental to careers

Saying 'no' needn’t be detrimental to careersImage Credit: Supplied

In today's constantly switched on, fast-paced world, many employees feel like they are trying to fit in more work, in less time.

From interns to managing partners, people say ''Yes'' to demands because they want to be a team player, eager to learn, or simply trying to be helpful. But saying ''No'' can sometimes be the better option.

Ashridge Executive Education explores why it's often hard to say no in the workplace and provides tips on what to think about before taking on another commitment.

Having boundaries in life, especially at work, is important for protecting our happiness. Boundaries allow us to say no when we need to, but also mean we can say yes when the opportunity is right.

Implementing boundaries that are respectful of ourselves can be harder for some people than others.

We're not suggesting you keep your job description so narrow that you reject all offers that come your way. Some offers will be great learning and present good opportunities for growth and possible advancement.

Sometimes, there are special deadlines and extra work is required. Other times, you'll want to help someone out because they helped you, but be mindful of taking on too much work in order to please.

It can make a situation worse, and potentially even cause more problems if you genuinely don't have time to do it.

There are three easy steps that can help you stop and think before taking on another responsibility and help you decide whether this will be beneficial:

Take time to consider the request

Determine how much time you'll need to deliver quality work, and how the assignment fits in to your existing workload. Before you say yes, you want to think strategically about what advantage doing this has for you.

Offer an alternative

It's understandable that saying no can often be difficult, especially if it's to a senior. So use this opportunity to use your initiative and suggest an alternative approach.

The ideas may not be used, but they will be valued and will show you are willing to contribute in a different way.

Ask for help prioritising

Asking for help is often seen as a weakness, but really it makes a workforce run more efficiently and this is where communication is key. Explain you have a real conflict with tasks and you're trying to resolve it.

Be clear that you are swamped and sometimes another person's perspective can improve a situation. This way, they might also understand why you can't take on the task.

So, think about it. Are you the type of person who gets taken in by flattery and ends up staying late to do work others could be doing? What would happen if you said no?

These habits are tough to break in organisations, but if you don't gently steer these requests more fairly to others on your team, you will continue to be given more work just because you always say yes and your happiness at work will be undermined.

It really is okay for everyone to say no sometimes, as this lets your organisation know that workloads are heavy and assistance may be required.

Get some tips on travelling through the ocean of life

Source: Louise Lambert and Alex Davda, Special to

Louise Lambert is a Canadian-registered psychologist, Canadian University Dubai. Alex Davda is a Business Psychologist and Client Director, Ashridge Executive Education